weekend free-for-all – November 30 – December 1, 2019

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: Know My Name, by Chanel Miller. This is by the woman who was assaulted by Brock Turner, and she’s an extraordinary writer and an extraordinary person.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 999 comments… read them below }

  1. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I had a very busy week, so not much for me. For the NaNoWriMo crowd: did you succeed in your goal (whatever it was)?

    1. Earthwalker*

      My writing buddy and I are renaming. Some of her characters’ names sound too much alike. All of my characters’ names are just two letters different from one another and the place where they live sounds almost the same too. I don’t know how I did that. It’s the verbal version of octuplets in matching shirts.

    2. heckofabecca*

      I’m struggling to work on my research essay at the moment… I need to write at least four more pages by Tuesday. Crossing my fingers that I can actually do this!!!

      1. Lady Jay*

        Right there with you! I am IN THE THICK OF seminar papers for the end-of-term, and by golly, I’m a little sick of turning out 1500+ words/day. Solidarity!

    3. NaoNao*

      Perfect timing!

      I’ve dusted off a NaNo project from 4 years ago and am giving it a very light once over before using it as a test case to get used to the Kindle Direct Publishing process. I’ve engaged someone who will do a beta read, light proofread, and formatting package for a very reasonable price.

      However…I’m having my doubts about this beta reader/editor.

      The book is a light potboiler/beach read mystery. It’s not explicitly for only adults, but it’s not aimed at YA, teens, or middle schoolers. However her feedback included that she thought YA would really like it and it “reminded her of her wattpad days”. I was a little stung and taken aback by that.

      This is not amateur fan fic wish fulfillment or fantasy, or a tossed off first draft. It’s not portentous literary “craft” but it’s pretty sophisticated in tone and topic.

      I’m not sure how I should take this. She seems really professional and helpful and her other critiques were spot on, but this is kind of nagging me. I just want to get this edited/proofread and DONE at this point, not dither over draft after draft!

      Advice? Help? Commiseration?

      1. Fikly*

        I think maybe you have a misconception of fanfic, or have not read it widely? Just because something is fanfic, does not mean it is lower quality. Rather, it plays by slightly different rules, because there are certain things publishers will generally not allow (certain indulgences that increase word count, for example), and conventions, for example, first person POV is generally more common in published fiction than fanfic.

        There is excellent fanfic out there. There are mainstream published authors who also write fanfic. There are mainstream fiction house editors who write fanfic. There is terrible fanfic, yes. But there is also terrible published fiction. Getting something published does not guarantee quality, which is terribly frustrating when you know you have something better than what you see on the shelves.

        I’m unclear if the YA comment bothers you. YA can mean a wide variety of ages these days. For am example of a novel than straddles the adult/YA divide, you might look at Zoe’s Tale, by John Scalzi. It’s science fiction, the fourth book in a series that to that point had been straight adult. This book takes place from the POV of a teen, and he sort of wrote it as a slight swing in the YA direction (it’s the first thing at all YA he wrote), but contains cursing and death and adult subject matter for sure. Romantic relationships but not explicit sex that I recall, not that his books are heavy on sex to begin with. His publisher kind of ended up cross marketing it between genre markets.

        Incidentally, that book is also an excellent example of how to essentially retell events that you told in a previous novel from a different POV and have an original and engaging novel, which is something I have rarely seen pulled off.

        1. NaoNao*

          I get that FanFic can be super well written and wonderful to read; but I also get that the conventions are different, and that certain things which can be amateur or hacky in the wrong hands are tolerated, and that was more where I was headed with it. I’m bothered because neither a YA “new adult” novel (which to me indicates certain problems, concerns, life moments, etc) or fanfic is what I’m going for, no matter how terrific either of those are on their own merits.

          1. Fikly*

            Why are you assuming that by her saying it reminds her of fanfic, it reminds her of bad fanfic? There is plenty of fanfic that reads no different than published novels – just because fanfic can go by different conventions doesn’t mean it all does. Certain things can be amateur or hacky in the wrong hands, yes, but does that mean they have to be avoided even by the right hands, or if they aren’t, are they still bad to do?

            Ask your reader what she meant by her comment. It’s very likely she has a very different meaning/context than you do. Also, YA is broadening as a genre, and is less a genre and more an age range these days. I’d ask about that too – she may just mean, it’s not thematically appropriate.

      2. curly sue*

        There are genre conventions and pacing differences that are specific to fanfic, and I wonder if she’s picking up on some of that. Maybe there are some tropes that you’ve drawn on which are more commonly used in YA or fic genres? I agree that it’s not a comment on ‘quality’ — I write fanfic and am traditionally published, and the tone / assumptions on the audience’s responsibility and contribution are different for each.

        If you otherwise trust this editor’s responses, I’d circle back and ask her to elaborate on what she meant there. She’s probably picking up on something specific but hasn’t yet articulated it in a way that’s useful for you.

    4. MadStuart*

      I wrote 50,003 words of terrible fanfiction and gained like five new multi-chapter things by accident along the way, so… kind of? (I was trying to finish things so that I felt okay starting new things, so this is also kind of a failure.)

    5. OyHiOh*

      Sent a script to Ready to Perform, one of the contests run by the Southeast Theater Conference. Finalists are announced Dec 10th. We’ll see!

      Graphic novel is going astonishingly well. Taking every possible opportunity to turn comic book tropes on their heads. The superhero has a dark streak and isn’t terribly sympathetic, the villain fosters puppies and kittens, and tutors underprivilaged school children when she’s not concocting novel street drugs.

      And I’ve got three full length scripts in progress, and 6 one acts somewhere between almost done and a couple pages of scribbled ideas. Full plate this winter!!

    6. Liane*

      Got all the blog articles for the rest of the year written as intended! Plus a start on January articles. I will be surprised if more than one other writer has all theirs submitted by the 12/17 deadline.

    7. Vervain*

      I had good November intentions, but this year, I let depression and excuses get in the way of my noveling. Maybe I’ll try a smaller goal in December.

    8. Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters*

      I finished today, 50000+ words. It was my first time joining nanowrimo and my first novel. I’ll definitely do it again!


    9. Troutwaxer*

      No NaNoWriMo here, just continuing to plug away during November. I wrote my first human/Orc love scene yesterday, and I’ve covered about 9.5 days of the eleven days the novel will cover.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I did not succeed at NaNoWriMo this year, due to 1) inadequate preparation because of 2) moving, then 3) getting sick after moving and 4) dealing with living out of boxes in someone else’s space. However, I’ve spent time making notes and shifted it to December. So this is my NaNo. Since I wasn’t doing it officially, it doesn’t much matter when I do it.

      This book is sort of a new thing for me, and I’m just gonna cut loose with it. Although my plot may be a little formula, I decided I’m going to just Fifty Shades it — that is, put my own daydreams to good use, although not necessarily in THAT way!

    11. rulesfor*

      I finished a NaNo and am pretty happy with it, for a first draft! The idea was relatively new (about six months) and I wasn’t sure it was ready to be a novel, but it was! 50k!

    12. Alexandra Lynch*

      I woke up from a dream and had a whole idea for a series of paranormal romances, complete with the background rules for how the magic “works”. So I wrote them down quickly and….well, I don’t know when I’ll get to writing it, but that’s that, at least.

      (It’s only been a week since my accident and I still have staples in my head, so I’m not doing any serious work just now. )

  2. esemes*

    Any life changing skincare products? Particularly ones to get a jump start on anti-aging? I’m open to all price points! :)

    1. Coffee please*

      I LOVE Skinceuticals CE Ferulic for skin discolorations, light wrinkles, etc. It’s pricey, but it does last a long time. Use it every morning, and easily goes under makeup. I’ve been using a neutrogena retinol product for my eyes that’s maybe too soon to tell. Interested to see what others say!

    2. Laburnum*

      I like Origins – they have overnight hydrating “masks” that are like a moisturizer. Again, pricey – but this time of year, lots of stuff on their site is on sale (and easy to try if you get a few of the small sample sizes in a gift pack).

    3. SansaStark*

      I really love my Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant. I have dry skin and this really helps to exfoliate the top layer of dead skin.

    4. Ron McDon*

      On Amazon UK there’s Viola Skin serums for around £15 a bottle.

      I started using the vitamin C one after reading good reviews online – it’s amazing! Within a weekend my skin was feeling softer and well nourished, and about a month later my skin was noticeably smoother, brighter, softer and my pores were less noticeable.

      I then added in the retinol serum at night which gives an extra boost of anti-ageing.

      Nothing I’ve used over the years has given such good results, they are truly amazing.

      I routinely get surprised comments when I tell people my age, where people think I’m 10 years younger, so they must be working!

      I definitely think we need to add a serum after the age of around 35-40, it made a big difference to my skin.

    5. Ludo*

      Ask your doctor for a retinoid prescription and look up YouTube videos (or google) how to start slowly using a prescription retinoid. You can start using it every night but you’ll most likely get very red and peel while your skin adjusts, if you start very slowly and build up to nightly use you can often skip the peel phase.

      If you don’t want to ask your doctor for that an over the counter option is called differin.

      And then if you don’t already, get in the habit of using an spf 30+ every single day.

      Retinoid+sunscreen are the building blocks of good skin.

        1. Digley Doowap*

          I should check the Web before I posted, but yes you can use vitamin a capsules by breaking them open and appling the oil directly to your skin overnight.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        +1 on Retin-A and sunscreen. Sunscreen is the best preventative; use it daily. Prescription vitamin A is still the gold standard (and generally priced better than OTC night creams).

        I also like: micro needling, hyaluronic acid, and sea buckthorn oil

      2. i rarely comment and forgot my username*

        Sunscreen every day, multiple times a day! and check out The Ordinary line from deciem. plus prescription tretinoin. Curology is a great, super low dose of tretinoin- cheaper than seeing a dermatologist in person.

    6. ThatGirl*

      It’s less anti aging and more just brightening but Lumene Valo Glow Boost Essence is my new favorite thing. It’s not too pricy (you only use a drop or two at a time) and is at Target.

    7. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Not sure which exact products to recommend without knowing your exact skin type, but in general, the key to anti-aging is keep your skin clean, fresh, and hydrated. USE SPF AND SUN PROTECTION to prevent damage. This is is the first thing I would recommend. I use a SPF 50 which I apply every 2-3 hours, even on cloudy days. Also, hats, long sleeves, and sunglasses.

      Since, getting into my late 20’s, I’ve switched to using oil cleansers instead of foam cleansers to retain moisture as much as possible. I also regularly exfoliate my skin. (I currently am using a scrub, but I want to switch to a chemical exfoliant like glycolic acid once I’m done with it.) And moisturize like crazy! You want to choose your serum and/or moisturizers carefully because these products sit on your skin the longest. I use a multivitamin serum (Vitamins A, C, and E) and a hydrating moisturizer with hyaluronic acid (which retains moisture in your skin.) I also use products without Fragrance because I have sensitive skin.

    8. CastIrony*

      I’m focused more on my dry hands, but I like Derma E creams, and there are anti-aging creams. They range around $10-20 USD, if not a few dollars more.

    9. Disco Janet*

      I have sensitive combination skin, and First Aid Beauty’s ultra repair cream is the most amazing moisturizer for me – total game changer!

    10. Budgie Buddy*

      Anything made from snails. Somehow those not only moisturize but also help your skin suck in anything else you’re using

    11. Vervain*

      Pixi by Petra. I usually get their products at Target and they’re priced like highbrow drugstore, but the glow tonic line has been a miracle for my skin.

    12. Don’t Think About a Cat*

      I have very, very sensitive skin and am of an, ahem, sensitive age, and I adore Amore Pacific. Not cheap, but good. Hand cream also highly recommended.

    13. Atheist Nun*

      I love Tata Harper’s rejuvenating serum and purifying cleanser. Both smell wonderful and work well on my normal-to-dry middle aged skin.

    14. Teacher Lady*

      I adore Glossier’s The Solution. My night moisturizer is HoneySkin, and I just use the Target generic of Neutrogena w/SPF during the day.

    15. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      So, I’ve never used La Mer, but I figured I’d drop in a bit of wisdom I read somewhere once about it, from I believe a hair stylist, or someone who worked at a spa? Someone being interviewed because they had some level of knowledge/authority in the subject. :)

      She said, basically, that she’d been curious about whether or not La Mer cream was really worth the price tag, so she started asking her customers if they used it. Of the ones that did, a lot of them seemed to indicate “meh” – it worked well enough, but not nearly well enough to justify the pricepoint. BUT, when this person specifically asked people who had noticeably great, beautiful skin, *almost all* of them used La Mer. Coincidence? Random or X-factor correlation? Perhaps, I just always thought it was an interesting set of data points.

    16. Mommy. MD*

      This sounds ridiculous but old school Ponds. I get a lot of compliments on my skin (even from a plastic surgeon) and have very few wrinkles. I do a Retin A micro peel every six months using it for 10 days. It’s a hassle because the skin flakes off during this time but it is the only thing that restores collagen. Last time I used OTC Differin bc I was out of the other. Both are retinoids. Always use sunscreen if outside a lot. Slather with Ponds every day. And it’s cheap. Origins is also good but pricey. Aldo gently use the MIA with a soft brush to exfoliate about every two weeks. I wash my face with the pink J&J baby bath. It’s super gentle and leaves my skin soft. Has to be the pink one.

    17. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve loved Clinique Turnaround Cream and have been using it for years. However, I’ll try all sorts of things I find at Marshalls, and something lighter I found there that like for summertime is Canaan Silk Serum.

      To be honest, I often wonder if we’re all just buying the packaging, but I guess you’ll find what works for you. I still look pretty young for my age in spite of ocean, SoCal Sun and tanning so I guess I must’ve done something right along the way.

    18. lobsterp0t*

      Stratia products! Specifically Liquid Gold and the AHA. It’s a really gentle and subtle exfoliant.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I’ve been having a lot of fun with the new Stardew Valley update! I love that game so much.
    (For those interested, the extremely long changelog is available on the official website – just google “Stardew Valley 1.4 changelog” or something)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Guild Wars 2, I got tired of being so carsick…before giving it up I tried generating a human character and it works. It was something about how the Charr character moves. So now I can keep up with the family, hurrah!

      1. A Former Norn*

        I played Guild Wars 2 until I gave birth to my first kid! It was a lot of fun and I miss it. I just wanted to comment that I loved the look of Charr characters, but I also found that they were extremely awkward to use. I thought it was just me! I loved my Norn, but she moved so slow that it felt off. Humans are the best way to go!

        Congrats on figuring out a way to play.

    2. Laika*

      Planet Zoo! Unfortunately the new patch did a bit of game-breaking but I’m still enjoying playing around in Sandbox and building lots of weird stuff.

      1. DoomCarrot*

        I’m still finishing up “The Witness” – I started playing it for work reasons so I’ll not go into that here, but continued because it’s got just the right kind of puzzles for the way my brain works.

        If you’ve ever played Myst, it’s superficially the same – running around an island solving puzzles – but much, much better, because there’s a logical progression. You get a simple puzzle, learn basic rules from that, then progress to more difficult ones by abstracting the rules you learned.

        And the graphics are amazing.

    3. Raia*

      Pokemon Sword! I understand why some people are having issues with the principles of the game. From a gameplay perspective, I think the game is awesome! and improves on a lot of shortfalls and tedious grinds of the previous games. I’ve played 40 hrs so far and almost all the main games besides silver, black 2, and ultra sun.

    4. Smol Book Wizard*

      I’m a creature of habit. I’m still playing Islanders. :) It’s a gorgeous city-building game with randomly generated islands and a points system that’s motivating but not nervewracking for me… very relaxing, very pretty, very good at keeping one busy.

      I was also given Equilinox as a gift – an ecosystem-building game – and am still figuring it out; I tend to get hung up on the “do this thing and then this one and then this other” chains of causation required to evolve the species. I imagine it will get more fun with practice though.

      Unfortunately, I have temporarily given up on Undertale. I get so disappointed when I can’t get past Undyne, and frankly, I’m not getting much better at it. Regrettable, because I really am interested in the storyline.

    5. Nynaeve*

      I just started playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic last night after I got stuck on the level of Portal I’m on. (I know what I need to do, but I’m not fast/dexterous enough to complete all the steps in the time available.)

    6. Amethystmoon*

      My Wednesday night game was cancelled but I’m playing Fall of Delta Green tonight. My character is a psychologist. She should have her work cut out for her.

    7. Tara R.*

      I can’t wait for the Stardew Valley update to come out on Switch. I’m tempted to start a playthrough on PC so I can check out the new features, but I’m trying to be patient!

  4. Loopy*

    Thanks to everyone who commented last weekend on my travel anxiety. I disappeared because lo and behold, THE THING happened. It seems I practically willed something going wrong into existence with my worrying. We went to book train tickets from London to Paris and there were no tickets… on any train. For five solid days. On any website. When I finally called the station in London, the very nice man told me there were no trains running those days because of the strike in France.

    I cringe to think of what clueless Americans we are (I can barely keep up with our local US news these days). We had *no* idea about the planned Dec 5 strike in France. So we scrambled to make alternate plans a week out because our hotel was booked and non refundable as was our flight home from Paris. Oof. We figured plane tickets may skyrocket and it was already a week out so we bought some and are hoping to be able to see as much of the city as possible despite what looks to be a very significant movement going on.

    And then today I started feeling sick. So. Any advice for quick cold remedies or how to power through a cold abroad is advised! Right now I’ve got vitamins, tea, lots of water, and rest ahead. I also grabbed some Echinacea blend that also has a bit of Elderberry in it on a whim. I just saw it says take one capsule SIX times daily?! Does anyone know more about this stuff? That’s awfully frequent.

    1. Stephanie*

      Try zinc, too. It always seems to help me ward off a cold if I start taking it as soon as I notice the early symptoms.
      good luck!

      1. Loopy*

        I read mixed things about zinc but passed it by initially. I may have to return to CVS then! Thanks for the recommendations!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Wear a face mask to reduce how many other people are exposed.
      Maybe change plans a little — switch to pamper-yourself options instead of go-go tourism. Half a day at one museum, and sit people watching at the museum cafe. Take a leisurely midday meal, find a spa for a massage or a hot tub for soaking, splurge on a boat/bus tour so you can sit & watch the city go by.
      In “The Dutchess of Bloomsbury Street”, Helene Hanff talks about finally getting to London, only to come down with a cold. She told someone she was fighting a cold, and the woman said “oh, Helene, just HAVE the cold!”
      So she pampered herself with English tea and sweet treats and big fluffy pillows… and it was a marvelous thing to read about.

      1. Loopy*

        This does sound rather lovely! I will have to see how much of a cold it turns out to be, right now I caught just the first signs so I’m hoping to ward it off by Monday!

        1. 00ff00Claire*

          If your symptoms just started, can you tolerate Nyquil? I know it’s not the best stuff, but for me it helps me sleep very well. If I take it and go to bed early (allowing at least nine hours, preferably more, for the night’s sleep), I find that it helps fight off the cold. I think it probably has more to do with getting a lot of really solid sleep than anything else in the Nyquil. So if you have something else that will knock you out, you could try that instead.

          1. Loopy*

            I have a love/hate relationship with Nyquil. It works TOO well and I’m useless for closer to 10 hours and fuzzy for at least 12! It’s not a bad suggestion though! I may see how tonight goes and if sleep doesn’t go well, I’ll pull it out for tomorrow for sure!

            1. 00ff00Claire*

              I’m actually the same with Nyquil. I take it very rarely, as fortunately I’m in a better position to deal with colds without it right now. However, when I do take it, I take only a half dose, three quarters max. And I’m still out / out of it for a solid 9-10 hours! Hoping you are better soon and you enjoy your trip despite the cold and the strike. We had to adjust plans for our trip in France due to a strike, but not as much as it seems you are. Are you flying into Charles de Gaulle? We flew into there and a few things that could be helpful if you can pull it off: have some euros already so you don’t have to go get them in the airport (lines were long) and if you have to go through customs there be prepared for a bit of a wait. Maybe you won’t have to because you’ll already be in the EU coming from London – hopefully not for your sake! We wound up taking longer in the process of taxiing to the terminal (the airport’s huge!), going through customs, getting into the city, and getting to our hotel. It might help to mentally prepare for it to take longer than you expect.

              Also, if you need to buy any medicine while you are there, try get it in London before you go to Paris. It’s certainly easier to figure out what is what in English, and in France some things we are used to are not over the counter/off the shelf. We tried to buy Tylenol in Avignon and it was a total bust, for reasons we still don’t quite understand!

              One more thing: I don’t know if I’ve seen you mention whether you will have phone service / data while you are there. If you don’t, Google Maps has a feature where you can download maps to your phone and save them to look at offline. You can download a whole city or just a portion of it. The downloaded map doesn’t have as much detail as the online version, but it does have landmarks, tube stations, and some restaurants. We found that feature very helpful while we were there! (Maybe I mentioned this already when I commented on one of your previous posts… if so, sorry!)

              1. Loopy*

                This is all great and super helpful! We will have Euros already thankfully but i booked a ride share van to get to our hotel due to the strike and the fine print says it’ll only wait an hour so I am thinking I should try and adjust since it may take us longer to get out to the curb it seems!

      2. Jaid*

        +1 for a face-mask. I also take specific meds for each symptom as it comes up as opposed to catch all drug, like Nyquil. BTW, caffeine isn’t your friend, so decaf and herbal tea would be best if trying to stay hydrated.

        I hope you feel better soon!

      3. Ann Nonymous*

        Definitely agreeing with the “pamper yourself and take things slow” advice.

        Only please don’t go to some public hot tub and make everyone else sick!

        1. Loopy*

          I am doing everything possible not to be *that person* on the plane. D: I have fingers crossed because so far it’s super mild and I’m doing everything to keep it that way or warding it off entirely! Napping, hydrating, supplements, etc!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have not used the exact Echinacea you are talking about but I have used a different blend. The idea is to keep a continuous flow to keep beating back the cold. For my own sanity, I would do two at each meal. Six is about right when a person is in the heavy part of their symptoms. (Not a doc, just worked with stuff for decades now, to help myself.)

      I have not used it in a while because what I was calling a cold turned out to be allergy or mild food poisoning and the Echinacea did not work on those things. It did work great on my real colds though.

      1. Loopy*

        Good to know! I have taken about 4 today I think. I’m definitely not in the heavy part of symptoms but will definitely try and take at least four tomorrow too!

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      Elderberry is one of the few things that has been shown to reduce a cold. Also zinc helps. I find that taking them frequently works best but 9 times a day seems like a lot!

    5. londonedit*

      Oof. I’m sorry. There’s basically always a strike in France. But it doesn’t take all that much longer to fly from London to Paris!

      Hope you can head off the cold – I’d definitely be on the vitamin C and echinacea! And blackcurrant – can you get Sambucol? It’s really good.

      1. Square Root Of Minus One*

        No, honestly, there isn’t. They are pretty frequent on very small scales (mostly in reaction to security issues), but this scale will be a first for many of us.

      2. Loopy*

        I am taking all of those things and feeling optimistic this morning! Feeling pretty normal but going to keep the routine to be safe!

        We aren’t really fully educated on the politics surrounding the strike (though we of course have done our best to read up on it) and the history of strikes in France so I’m trying to simply approach it as how do I manage to get where I need to go and not be an insensitive foreigner whining about my vacation.

    6. Sara(h)*

      The key with zinc is to get zinc LOZENGES and let them dissolve in your mouth. There is scientific evidence backing this but it has to be at the very onset of symptoms — the sooner the better. And if you have a sensitive stomach, zinc can upset your stomach. Make sure not to use on an empty stomach regardless. And some zinc lozenges don’t have enough zinc — each lozenge should have btwn 13 and 25 mg to be effective. I use the Whole Foods store brand. I have hardly gotten a cold at all since discovering the magic of zinc lozenges 20 years ago.

      1. Loopy*

        This is great info, I was feeling way too overwhelmed when I initially saw all the zinc based cold products at the pharmacy! This helps immensely!

    7. Ginger Sheep*

      Hi Loopy!
      Some updates from France – the strike is forecast as being major, ie no public transport at all dec 5 and 6, and major disturbances the following days. My daughter’s school is closing on the 5th because of the strike, and the university I work for has cancelled classes that day as well. The good news is, lots of places in Paris are walkable from each other if you are in reasonable health ; the bad news is the weather is currently dismal – rainy and cold and wet – and has been for most of the past month.

      Secondly- we’ve been following each other’s Instagram baking accounts (though I haven’t been on Instagram since the summer due to starting a new job in September), and I have Thursday and Friday unexpectedly off from work. Would you like to come over at my place to learn cookie-decorating, French-style? I would enjoy meeting you and having someone to share my hobby with! Of course the issue is actually coming over – I live in the Northern suburbs, and while the train ride from Paris is short and cheap, because of the strike you would have to take a taxi/Uber, which are way more expensive and take longer (maybe 40€/45 minutes, depending on traffic and where in Paris you are coming from). If you think this could be fun, contact me by DM on my Instagram and we’ll see if we can plan it!

      1. Loopy*


        Thanks so much for your help clarifying the scale of the strike, it’s very helpful. We are totally able to do a good amount of walking but I do hope the rain isn’t to terrible or we’ll get quite soggy. Cold we can handle though!

        While I would LOVE to stop by and cookie decorate (and connect with a fellow baker and AAM-er!) and so appreciate the offer, we are actually coming over form London too late to make it there sadly. Our plans shifted quite a bit since have to fly in instead of taking the train. But I am so touched by the invitation and sorry we wont be able to make it there!

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! I am doing quite a bit to mitigate the cold and it seems to be working well so far- catching it early and acting immediately seems to be paying off. As for the transportation issues, I’m hoping we can work around it and enjoy our first time in France without too much hassle since we’ve been planning ahead for it.

    8. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Salt gargle protects your throat – as often as you can gear.

      Alternatively, and particularly when you’re away, gargle with a good antibacterial mouthwash (in the UK look for Listerine) because it instantly makes you feel better, but also protects your throat.

      Hope it all goes well!

    9. Mme Pince*

      I don’t know if this is a universal experience or a me thing, but when I’m congested and have to fly, my ears hurt a lot when the pressure changes on planes. I would highly recommend taking a decongestant those days and possibly investing in some of those special ear plugs that are meant to equalize the pressure more slowly.

  5. No Tribble At All*

    Good morning everyone! I’m looking for recommendations for vegetarian dishes for Christmas that aren’t based around squash. We’re hosting Christmas this year, and both my sister and my husband’s sister are vegetarian. So we’ll have 2 out of 9 people vegetarian. I’m going to make squash soup as an appetizer because I have a 25lb squash hanging around at home. So I don’t want the vegetarian main dish to ALSO be squash. (Then again, maybe they’ll want that! I should ask.)

    So, hit me with your best vegetarian mains with no winter squash that are moderately fancy!

    1. PB*

      I have modified a beef stew recipe (link to follow) to be a vegetarian stew. Swap out the beef with seitan or other vegetarian protein and skip the browning step. Omit the anchovies, and use vegetable broth instead of beef. This is a good recipe, with lots of veggies and red wine slow-cooked for hours, and really feels celebratory. I’ve had it for New Years the last two years. I tend to serve with mashed potatoes and a winter cocktail.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh that sounds good! My go-to new year’s dish is Nigella’s yellow split-pea soup. I make it with veg stock and sometimes have veggie ‘hot dogs’ in it. It’s gorgeous.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Just throwing this out there, but as a vegetarian, if there’s already a soup course, I wouldn’t want my main to be stew. I know they’re not exactly the same, but it’s close enough that it’d bug. I think it really introduces the same sort of problem “both are squash” would.

        1. Marzipan*

          Mmm, I know what you mean.

          If it’s a situation where everyone else is having basically a traditional roast dinner with various side dishes, then personally I’d probably internally be a bit sad if my main course wasn’t something that sensibly let me eat those side dishes, too.

        2. PB*

          To be clear, when I make this, it’s the only main and there’s no soup course. I make food that everyone can eat.

    2. fort hiss*

      You can make a great vegetarian stuffing! I made one where I replaced sausage with small chunks of Japanese eggplant that I simmered in soy sauce until they got meaty and soft. People went wild for it at a party.

      Try to think of dishes where meat is incidental or absent anyway and that can help. Macaroni and cheese! Cheese and breadcrumb stuffed roasted tomatoes. French onion soup. Sautéed escarole with white beans and garlic. Aloo Gobi is really good too! Priya on Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel does a ton of simple vegetarian Indian food.

    3. GoryDetails*

      You’re already making a soup so this may not work for you, but I really loved a vegan recipe from Budget Bytes: the Creamy Vegetable Wild Rice Soup. It’s marvelously savory and tasty, and if you simmer it a bit longer (or use less liquid in the first place, or make it ahead of time and reheat it after a night in the fridge) it gets closer in texture to a risotto. And nary a squash in sight!

      1. Koala dreams*

        White bean fake risotto! Fry canned beans and onion / mushrooms, add liquid (wine or veg stock or both), cook 5-10 minutes.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        This looks delicious!! I like that I can make the filling ahead of time and that it’s big and dramatic. This may be the winner! Thanks all for the suggestions :)

        1. Taking The Long Way Round*

          Woohoo! I love it because it tastes great of course, but also because you can slice it and serve it with all the other trimmings that turkey eaters have (if they’re veggie too). Also it is FAB cold sliced in a sandwich, carb overload!

      2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Thank you for this! When you make it vegan, do you make the puff pastry from scratch or is there a storebought brand you like?

      3. Brrrrr*

        I made this for Christmas last year, it was great! Pretty sure the suggestion came from AAM, maybe from you. It’s quite easy, with bought puff pastry of course. I had a couple leftover slices in the freezer that I just discovered a couple weeks ago. It was a pleasant surprise as I had forgotten about them. They reheated nicely in the oven.

    4. Taking The Long Way Round*

      I’ve just posted a link for Rose Elliott’s Walnut Pate en Croute, which is in moderation, but I wanted to say that I am allergic to cashews and I have substituted hazelnuts and almonds instead in the recipe and it is still absolutely delicious!

    5. Michelle*

      For Thanksgiving, I made a harvest rice dish that used brown and wild rice, dried cranberries, mushrooms, and toasted almonds. The recipe that I used also suggested adding peas for a bright green colour, which would go great with the bright red cranberries. You could do something similar and use vegetable broth to cook the rice in.

      Also, Smitten Kitchen has a recipe for Mushroom Bourguignon that would be great for Christmas. It is described as ” bourguignon without the heft of beef.”

    6. Grandma Mazur*

      We make the Hairy Bikers nut roast with wild mushroom gravy (I think you can find it on the Red website – it’ll certainly appear if you google it). Our other favourite is Glamorgan Sausages (cheese and leeks) – any crumbly mild cheese will work if you can’t find Caerphilly. We use Felicity Cloake’s recipe from the Guardian.

    7. heckofabecca*

      Not sure if you can still get a hold of a sugar pumpkin by then, but Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good (that’s the name of the recipe) was a HUGE hit at my dairy Thanksgiving. Not quite a squash XD Other possibilities:

      – Indian food is easily made vegetarian if it’s not already! Shahi Paneer, curries, etc.
      – If they like spicy, veg chili
      – quiche (with or without a butternut squash crust XD)
      – lasagna
      – vegetarian pot pie (bonus points if you make it without the crust and instead make buttermilk biscuits to dunk in, SO good)

    8. Laburnum*

      Mushroom bread pudding. There are a few recipes out there — I use one that calls for different types of mushrooms and you roast them on a sheet pan before putting them in, which intensifies the flavor. I also use a dash of truffle salt. This is nice and hearty and goes well with a green salad on the side.

      1. Dr Useless*

        We’ve done mushroom wellingtons for years now for our vegan/vegetarian option. I used to do one with nuts, but since my mother developed a nut allergy we’ve switched over to a recipe with chestnuts.

        I can’t seem to find the recipe right now, but it involved chestnuts, breadcrumbs, mushrooms and puff pastry. I usually double the amount of mushrooms in any recipe because that makes it more moist.

        They’re very tasty with cranberry sauce or vegan gravy (note: a lot of gravy mixes are accidentally vegan, funnily enough, provided you don’t add meat juices of course).

      2. Taking The Long Way Round*

        I’ve posted a link for an excellent one! It’ll be in moderation :)
        (I’m determined to convert people to it!)

    9. Aly_b*

      I’m vegetarian and bring a veggie dish to Christmas every year. So far the most popular have been spanakopita (easier than you’d think), and a pasta with olive oil, lemon juice, feta, green onion, canned artichoke, and cherry tomato. The pasta is easy and tasty and a little taste of spring, and doesn’t feel like it’s lacking for meat. You want to actually taste a bit of the lemon.

    10. Koala dreams*

      Bruxelles sprout stew with white beans, saffron and vegetables. Carrot balls or carrot burgers. Kale pie. Baked rutabaga with mustard sauce.

    11. Ginny Weasley*

      I’d definitely go with something like a vegetarian lasagna (personally I’d like one with a white sauce and mushrooms and spinach or something a little different than marinara sauce) and I’d definitely try and make sure that most if not all of the sides are vegetarian where reasonable, or save some for them before adding the meat part. I’m not a vegetarian anymore but I used to be and nothing would drive me crazier at a family dinner where all of the delicious vegetable sides I would have loved to have (Brussels sprouts I’m looking at you) had some kind of meat mixed in. Vegetarian stuffing isn’t a big change and it’s pretty darn easy to set aside some of the Brussels sprouts before adding the bacon, for example.

      Also I just made this mistake yesterday at a pot luck – I specifically made a vegetarian black bean and quinoa dish for a vegetarian friend but she didn’t tell me – and I didn’t think to ask – beforehand that she doesn’t eat cheese if she doesn’t see the label to be 100% sure it’s made with vegetarian rennet. So she couldn’t eat the dish I made for her because it had cheese on top. So I’d check with your vegetarian guests before using cheese to see if that’s an issue for them or stick to cheese that you can prove uses vegetarian rennet.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Seconding the veggie lasagna. A favorite of mine when people made it for me is spinach and ricotta.

    12. Kimmybear*

      At our Thanksgiving with peanut allergies, celiac, diabetics and vegetarians, I had an awesome stuffed mushroom that I think would be great with portabellas rather than the baby bellas that were used. I’l see if I can get the recipe.

    13. Jackalope*

      I’m a big fan of pasta dishes since they are easy to make vegetarian and most people recognize them as a main dish. Someone else mentioned veggie lasagna and that is wonderful; I also like what I call “everything pasta”, which is a regular Mac and cheese but adding whatever veggies I have on hand into the mix. Spaghetti with mushrooms and garlic and onions is great too. I have often made vegetarian chili; just take out the meat and add in any veggies that you want (I like corn and zucchini a lot, but your tastes may vary). If that’s too close to soup and therefore the “everything is squash” issue then you could skip it, or put the chili over pasta, or just make it for another meal if everyone is around for awhile. Better Homes & Gardens has a great tortilla bean casserole that basically has you cook canned tomatoes, beans, and peppers for a bit, then make a layered casserole with the bean mix, corn tortillas, and cheese. When you bake it the corn tortillas become soft and everything kind of melts together.

    14. Bluebell*

      I don’t have the exact recipe anymore but used to make a cheddar puff pastry ring (gougere) and stuff it with sautéed onion, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, and herbs, topped with shredded cheddar cheese. Pretty to look at and delicious. I’ve also done some nice white bean and mushroom cassoulet.

    15. CastIrony*

      Stuffed bell peppers (which has mainly rice and cheese), and if you can find some, chickenless chicken is a thing.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Gonna recommend the potato curry for you too :) Look for a recipe made in the Vedic tradition because they don’t use onions and garlic and will have a seasoning called asafoetida powder instead, it’s a dry ground root that has a flavor reminicent of aliums when heated). I like adding peas and carrots to mine, and have a couple standards cooked in tomato gravy but you know what ingredients you can safely eat so substitute at will. It’s substantial and filling and feels like a treat with any starches you’re able to partake of.

      2. AGD*

        Tteokbokki or mochi with e.g. teriyaki sauce. Way more interesting than plain old brown-rice pasta.

        Also, see if you can tolerate Beyond Meat burgers – no alliums, and delicious.

    16. Fellow Traveler*

      For Thanksgiving, I made smitten kitchen’s cabbage and mushroom galette and it was really tasty. I also (on the advice from someone here) just asked my vegetarian brother what he wanted, and he said he wanted a “Field Roast”- which is a vegetarian roast that I was able to find at Whole Foods. I roasted it with potatoes, carrots and squash, and it went over pretty well.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We’ve been experimenting with TVP — texturized vegetable protein. It comes in a bag dry, looking unappealingly likemail kitty kibble. Softened it becomes a decent analog to ground meat for things like lasagna & chili. Eggplant lasagna with this in the marinara is very good.

    18. Grace*

      Another vote for mushroom wellingtons!

      You can make individual ones in advance – the recipe I use has kale, walnuts, gorganzola, and one portobello mushroom in each wellington – and then freeze them, and cook from frozen on the day. They last very well in the freezer, so you can make a few and then have them months later. It works well for our family because the meat-eaters have a beef wellington, but it’s a fun little classy dish anyway.

      I have a single mushroom wellington and then load up on the veggie sides, but we do Christmas buffet-style. It would also work well as a meal brought to the table and served as-is.

    19. londonedit*

      For the last 25 years my festive vegetarian Christmas main course has been pine nut and pepper roast. You fry up a punnet of mushrooms (250g?) with a red, yellow and orange (bell) pepper, just to soften them a little, then add garlic, and then add them to a bowl with a handful of Parmesan, one egg, a couple of tablespoons of tomato purée and a big handful of chopped parsley, and seasoning. Then add 50% in volume of wholemeal breadcrumbs, mix it all together (it should be quite a sticky mixture) and then put into a lined loaf tin and bake at 180 (I think that’s 350F) for about 45 minutes. You can then turn it out onto a baking tray and put it back into the oven to crisp up on the other side too. It freezes really well and is really nice hot or cold with redcurrant jelly.

    20. OyHiOh*

      I would do a luxurious potato curry – look for a punjabi or northern india recipe that’s wet (has a good gravy built in, rather than being dry/no gravy). For a main course, I’d add some carrots and peas to the basic recipe and make sure you have bread or rice on the table to go with. Curry sounds daunting and complicated but potato curries in particular are fairly easy to assemble and pretty forgiving of first time experiments. You can make it with no heat at all – skip chili powder and use bell peppers rather than green chilies – or as much heat as your vegetarian eaters enjoy.

      As a bonus, a potato curry reheats well and much like a good stew, tastes better after the flavors have time to settle together. Just don’t add cilantro or any other fresh herbs until the dish is ready to take to the table.

    21. 12-year Vegetarian*

      Make sure you have something with high protein. Pasta is vegetarian but it’s often not as satisfying for people if it is low in protein. There are lots of vegan or vegetarian baked bean recipes out there which are really good. Lentils are also really versatile: you can make a stew with carrots, celery, and so forth; you can make a cold salad with potatoes, onions, oil, and lemon; you can wine-glaze them with tomato sauce. For the final option, there is a really good recipe by Deborah Madison that you can find online.

    22. Llellayena*

      My family’s traditional Christmas meal is homemade manicotti (sort of like lasagna in tubes, for those non-Italian folk out there). But the shells are more like crepes than the pasta ones you can get in the store so it’s not a recipe I’d serve on the first try. Stuffed shells would work though. Ricotta and mushroom, ricotta and zucchini, lots of different filling options.

    23. A few things are nice*

      Spanish chickpeas and rice from Budget Bytes! Delicious, and has artichoke so automatically qualifies as “fancy” in my book.

    24. epi*

      If you don’t need the dish to be vegan, I highly recommend Vegetarian Times’ spinach pie recipe. My husband and I make it for holidays with only one alteration: we use all leeks instead of a combination of onions and green onions. It’s a fantastic dish, hearty like a vegetarian lasagna but less expected. (Not that lasagna isn’t great too!) It feels like an extra treat to have it at home because a lot of people don’t want to work with phyllo dough.

      However, phyllo dough is fiddly but not really very difficult. And it’s forgiving in this dish because it is layered. Every time we work with it, it takes us half as long as the time before– which is good because both of our families now insist we bring it to all gatherings. Homemade spinach pie is that good. We’ve made it up to five days ahead, refrigerated it, then reheated it in the oven to crisp the crust back up. So you can try it out before chaos really descends.

      If your guests are OK with it, you could also just load up on the meatless sides. Many vegetarians prefer that on Thanksgiving– I always used to when I didn’t eat meat. IMO it can work for Christmas too.

    25. The Rat-Catcher*

      If there were extenuating circumstances, those should have been kindly detailed (we will be late for the Llama Parade if we stop), otherwise it was not a big deal to stop. If something is minor, it shouldn’t be a big deal for them to handle it respectfully.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        Ugh, this was supposed to be on the next thread, sorry! I don’t have any killer veggie main dish ideas.

  6. It’s not about the coffee*

    I feel stupid as hell. After 7 continuous days of my spouse being grumpy/annoyed/frustrated with me, I had an outburst. In front of MIL. Over the stupidest thing—coffee. But… it’s not really about the coffee right?

    We were driving home and I asked if we can stop for coffee and he got so exasperated. And said “You just had lunch with your friend, she didn’t get you coffee???”

    (1. No there was no time for coffee, and 2. No one GETS me anything I buy it myself). They then insisted that I can go and get it myself later on. I said no.

    We went home and I had a face on because my MIL said if I want coffee at home, I said no it’s fine. My husband said something and I lost it at him and started crying. That he’s always upset and angry with me. He always has a problem with me. And then I went to my room and cried for 2 hours.

    Then my MIL came in and said I need to respect him, she also called him out on how he is behaving etc but I need to be more respectful.

    It’s not about the coffee… I feel this is the only place that would understand that. I could have easily gone myself later on and gotten it. I didn’t have to ask but 7 continuous days of him ignoring me or being extremely unpleasant wore me out.

    No one in my life really gets it, how it feels to be living with someone who mostly acts like they can’t stand you. Friends and family say I need to toughen up, all men are like this, he’s one of the good ones etc. when we’re home alone he’s fine, it’s just whenever we visit his family he’s on edge. It’s been like this for years.

    I can’t wait to be back home, to my regular life.

    1. MommaCat*

      Maybe next time, he can just visit his family alone? Y’all seem to have a bad dynamic happening when visiting with them. And your MIL seemed out of line, but she might be part of the reason your husband is on edge. Much sympathy, and I hope it gets better soon.

      1. It’s not about the coffee*

        I think we will have to. It sucks because I do find things to enjoy while here. We used to stay with my brother in law and his family and it was a lot more enjoyable for us all. But now that MIL has moved back, my husband wants to stay with her since she’s alone.

        And the other problem is me— as angry and hurt as I am now, I will forget it quickly and only remember the good things. When my anger dissipates, I fall in to the “well that’s not so bad, he’s on edge so I do what I can to not ruffle him.” I forget the bad feelings quickly, some have said it’s a good thing but I don’t think it is n

        1. fposte*

          In the description, you both sound pretty reactive. That could be a normal thing when you’re away from home and under the stress of relatives, but if it’s not, have you been in couples counseling? If you don’t want couples counseling and you don’t think you can accept your husband’s responses, what do you want to do? Are you considering divorce?

          It may also be worth thinking about what an acceptable balance does look like to you. If you read John Gottman (which I highly recommend) there’s generally an optimal ratio of positive to negative interactions, but there’s no optimal erasure of negative interactions. A lot of couples bicker when visiting the in-laws :-). If it’s part of a general pattern of bickering that tears them down, that means a different thing than if they’re generally happy and supportive and are just snappish from stress for a week. Forgetting it in the latter case is a reasonable thing to do; in the former not so much.

        2. WellRed*

          Your second paragraph is frightening. This is what abused women tell themselves. The excuses (he’s on edge). The walking on eggshells (must not ruffle). The rose colored glasses of when he’s nice. Not understanding all the MIL focus. This is very much a spouse problem.

          1. It’s not about the coffee*

            My spouse is otherwise perfectly fine when we’re not visiting his mother. I still don’t know what it is, she’s nice and doesn’t say much but…he’s like that. There’s history that the other brothers were jerks to their wives and she was somehow indirectly involved.

            If I was a different kind of person, I’d spend allllll my time with her being fake nice so that she doesn’t have time/energy/opportunity to “fill my husbands ears”. (That’s real advice I’ve been given in the past)… but that’s not me.

            The forgetful thing… I noticed this happens with me pretty much in every aspect of my life. Friends, work, family, my weight. I see my therapist the day after I get back. Will definitely talk to him then.

            1. valentine*

              I think this:
              I forget the bad feelings quickly

              is what has you saying this:
              My spouse is otherwise perfectly fine when we’re not visiting his mother.

              Because that’s not possible. Someone who treats you properly and well doesn’t just turn that off like their mom is static interference. If anything, they would slide back into their “usual” behavior at moments you find yourselves alone together and forget you’re at her house (unless she is ever-present and you honestly have zero alone time).

              Letting it go day after day seems off, as does crying for two hours. That’s a lot of buildup. If he were really kind the rest of the time, why wouldn’t you discuss it on the way home (before you forget!) or before the next trip? You’re planning a trip and you either honestly don’t remember what’s coming (silence and contempt) or you do, but don’t say anything. You’re “forgetting” so that he doesn’t say you made him mad. Why? What’s so bad about him getting mad? It was fine with him that you were so upset, you cried for two hours, but him being mad is a cardinal sin. Why?

              The people giving you sexist advice and “Men are on Mars” or whatever it is are doing you a great disservice. They are living like you’re crabs in a bucket.

              Is this the life you want (not “can tolerate” or “(allegedly) better than most”) and, if not, how are you going to build a path to where you want to be?

        3. tangerineRose*

          Can you let him stay with his mom, and you stay somewhere else? Or maybe take a vacation to somewhere else you want to go?

          “he’s always upset and angry with me.” It’s not OK for him to treat you like that.

        4. AcademiaNut*

          A suggestion for the forgetting part – keep a journal. Write down how you feel and why, in the moment, so that you have a record and can deal with it later.

          And if it’s really just the visits to his family that cause problems, let him go alone! Send him off for a week, and enjoy being nice to yourself. Have your favourite foods, spend some time with friends, do things just the way you want to. Read a good book, binge watch a favourite series, spread out a craft project. Book an extra therapy session! And maybe if he doesn’t have you to absorb his bad mood he might actually think about his relationship with his mother.

          I second other commenters in saying that not all men are like this. Everyone has bad moods and weird things that trigger them, and lots of people have uncomfortable family dynamics. But there are lots of men who do not use their wives as dumping grounds for their bad moods, who can apologize when they behave badly (and, importantly, try better the next time), and who don’t require very carefully handling to keep them for being nasty.

    2. PB*

      I’m so sorry. No, this isn’t about coffee. This is really awful. No, you shouldn’t have to live with someone who “mostly acts like they can’t stand you.” You don’t need to toughen up. All men are NOT like this, and your husband does not sound like he’s “one of the good ones” if this is how he treats you. And your mother-in-law telling you that you need to “respect him?” That’s a load of bull. Respect isn’t owed; it’s earned.

      It sounds like your husband may have some deep-seated issues with his family, but he should work those out with a therapist or a journal, not by taking it out on you.

      Again, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. It’s not kind, it’s not fair, and it’s not your fault.

    3. Washi*

      It seems like you guys are doing these visits on the hardest mode – staying with someone who sets you on edge, staying for a full week, plus you try to power through your husband’s unpleasantness until it all explodes out.

      Why not play this on easy mode? Stay with other relatives, go for a shorter time, or have him do visits without you altogether. It sounds like right now you’re doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Maybe split the time between brothers and mom, if you have to stay a whole week?

        We’ve gone separately to each of our parents, or gone on non-holiday weekends, and it’s better. You do not have to go.

    4. Homo neanderthalensis*

      All men are not like this. He’s not one of the good ones. This will only get worse. Couples counseling is a bare minimum here- and if he won’t go you need to talk to a lawyer. I’m sorry if that’s not what you want to hear but it’s true.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Thirding! My husband has his moments but he always realizes and apologizes if he’s taking something out on me!

    5. Cora*

      This sounds tough. For what it’s worth, I go through the same thing when we go to visit my husband’s family. He is incredible, and when we are at home things are pretty damn great, but visiting his family really puts us both on edge and inevitably there is at least one stupid fight during the visit.
      I second the suggestions to make some changes in order to make the visits easier on you all. Maybe stay with his mom only every other visit, or have your husband go alone sometimes. I find that mentally preparing myself helps too – if I know my husband is going to be on edge and I know my in laws are going to say insensitive things to the both of us, it’s slightly easier to let it roll off my back in the moment.
      Also, I think it’s worth having a conversation with your husband once you’re home and things have settled down about what happened and how to minimize this in the future. Couples counseling may be worth it if this is a problem outside the family visits.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      No, they are not all like this, but I can’t even focus on your husband – I am furious about your MIL’s actions. Perhaps it’s my own history blinding me, but your MIL telling you how to behave toward her son?

      Completely unacceptable. Completely.

      I am reading this story to my husband right now and telling him how angry I am still about his mother lecturing me about how to do laundry for him. This event was 11 years ago. Eleven! I remember every second of it and I am still pissed.

      Point is that parents and in laws need to stay out of the marriage. And that your husband should have your back. And he should be nice to you. (And you to him, of course. :) )

      My husband’s parents hated me (for many reasons, one of which was that I ate bacon wrong), so I just stopped going with him to see them. That worked for us.

      Well, it worked for me. :) It meant my husband had to deal with them all by himself, but honestly? It was going to be awful for him whether I was there or not and we didn’t see the point of us both being miserable.

      (And then they died three years ago and yet, they still reach from beyond the grave to bring crap into our lives!)

      So. My advice is:

      1. Don’t go with him to his parents. Don’t subject yourself to that.
      2. You guys appear to have some stuff going on between you. Other commenters have given some wise advice about your marriage. Take it.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, any opinion from her about how you should behave should be met with “I’m sorry, I’m not interested in discussing my marriage with you.”

    7. Koala dreams*

      You don’t have to live with someone who ignores you or are rude to you. One option is to live separate, so you can both go home when you get tired of each other. And you shouldn’t trust those “friends” too much either, they have weird ideas about men.

      If it’s more of a holidays are awful-thing, maybe you can stay at an hotel / motel / B&B next time and your husband can stay with his mother. The two of them get time together, you can catch up on reading or rest. Maybe even invite your mother in law to coffee at the hotel one day?

    8. only acting normal*

      Oh dear god no, all men are not like this! Ignoring you for a week, or acting like he can’t stand you, is not something “one of the good ones” does!

    9. blackcat*

      Agree with others that no, this is not normal, and you should stop going with him to visit his family. Let him be pissed about it, and offer to discuss any future visits to his family with a counselor present.

    10. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Your husband’s behavior sounds very worrying here. If there is something in particular that is making him upset with you, he needs to communicate it upfront so you two can hash it out, but just being generally grumpy, passive aggressive, and disrespectful is SO not okay.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Oh, grrrr. What others have said.

      He’s not dealing with his real issues, instead you are his substitute “verbal punching bag”. This is going to continue on until you decide to do something different. He already sees that he can get away with the behavior and he has for years so now it’s ingrained in him.

      You are absolutely correct it’s not about the coffee. I flashed back to the ONLY time my husband ever barked at me about stopping while on a road trip. We were stuck on top of an icy mountain in an ice storm that we did not foresee. The situation was so bleak even the dog was crying. “Make him shut up”, my husband said. Okay this is way, way out of character. I never heard my husband speak like this about the dog and def did not talk to me like this. I made the mistake of saying, “When we get down the hill, I could use a restroom.” He lost it on me. “If you didn’t drink coffee….” He went on and on.

      It was two miles down hill. We had no idea when help would be coming. The only reason we stopped was because of that WONDERFUL tractor trailer in front of us. Had that truck not been there we would not have known of the trouble ahead. It was getting darker and darker. We still had a long way to go on our ride home and we had to go to work the next day. (Many things wrong with this picture.)

      I dunno why, but I happened to have a Reader’s Digest with me. I started reading out loud. I read the little jokes or the short happy stories they always have. My husband did not laugh but he stopped being pissy. The dog stopped crying/barking but remained hyper vigilant. We got down the hill and he pulled into a gas station. “Hurry!”, was all he said.

      The point I am trying to show, is that when I decided to do something to calm the husband and the dog down, they both dialed back. Even the dog allowed himself to be consoled by my voice droning on and on through Reader’s Digest. Your husband is not allowing anyone, worst yet even YOU, to console him. And he has done this repeatedly for YEARS. His respect for you has either run away or died entirely.

      No this is not normal, no he is not one of the good ones. Your MIL needs to be more respectful of YOU. Your husband needs to get help. This is not what a marriage should be. Marriage is a give and a take; a back and forth. Your marriage is you walking on eggshells waiting for the next blow up.
      When you have to convince yourself that it’s not that bad, then it probably IS that bad.

      Tell him that since he is able to ignore you for your entire trip, then you will not be going anymore because clearly he does not need you there or want you there.

      1. KR*

        +1 If husband is so irritable around his family and isn’t able, after all these years, to see that and talk about it and find coping mechanisms that aren’t “Be mean to wife.” he can go alone and be mad alone.

    12. anon for this...*

      I sympathize so much :( We did not go to visit the in-laws for thankgiving (thank God for that!!), but being around them always makes my husband awful too, because he’s stressed out. And this family stuff really does come between us: his parents are mean, manipulative, ugh, while mostly being nice to my face (but I’ve seen the emails sent, I know they stopped talking to my husband for a year after he married me, I know they think I’m a gold-digging egomaniac knowitall who is taking him away from truth and goodness, I know how they’ve treated our child). Fine. I married him, not them. I can ignore them. But him: when I wonder if he even likes me, when I wonder why he’s with me if he’s so unhappy, when I wonder if he simply doesn’t have the courage to divorce me…. With parents like his, there is a lot to be unhappy about, but I don’t want it!

      I haven’t decided quite what to do about this. I laid it on the table for him and I don’t think he fully gets it, but he does claim he likes me, and has been less of a jerk since talking. Got “Too good to leave, too bad to stay” on Kindle & have skimmed it; it’s not totally positive but at least the first 5 signs were good. Thinking of taking a day of PTO and talking with an attorney just to know initial dos & don’ts if I were to decide this was over. I’m working on the mindset shift that I’ll do for him what I want for me (in kindness, courtesy, attention) and I will tell him very directly what I want (had to write a letter ’cause I can’t talk about it without crying) and if he can’t do it, I deserve to be happy rather than always unhappy because of someone else. Truly: I’m happy all day until he comes home & snaps about something stupid, like how I open a box of tofu. That can stop. He can be a grown-up and figure his sh&* out with me, or he can be a grown-up and figure his sh&* out without me, but he’s darn well going to be not a jerk to me or he’s going to be alone.

    13. Not Alison*

      Just writing to let you know that you are not the only one whose husband is different when visiting the inlaws than he is at home. Mine is not as bad as yours at the inlaws, but definitely makes comments to me that grind my gears. But we only visit them for a day at a time so I can put up with it and shake it off. But I definitely sympathize with you and agree with the rest of the commenters to let him visit his family himself.

    14. Anon Here*

      What happens if you try to talk about this when he’s not around his family? Is he open to talking about it? Does he acknowledge that it’s a problem? Does he apologize?

      I think the other commenters have given good advice. Some people are jerks when stressed. Visiting family can be upsetting, and some people don’t want to acknowledge that openly. But if he is a good guy, he’ll want to do better. He’ll agree that this is a problem. He’ll apologize and try to find a solution.

      What you wrote sounds concerning, and I’m sorry your friends are being the way they are. I hope you can find people offline who will support you more.

      1. lasslisa*

        Yeah. My partner and I get snippy when stressed and nothing says stress like living with your parents again for a week as an adult when you all have different ways of living and interacting, and all the faaaaamily pressures are in full force.

        But we talk about it. And we touch base to say, hey, the way your parents sit and watch TV for hours kills me, can you pay attention when I suggest a walk? Hey, my parents always get under my skin about cleaning can you please not jokingly agree and tease me? I feel smothered, can you try to help me get some alone time? All sorts of reasonable stuff to ask for.

        1. Anon Here*

          Yeah. Like most people, I can be a jerk situationally. Family stuff can bring it out. But if someone I care about points it out later, I always apologize. I try to apologize before it reaches that point. But, you know, I realize what I’m doing isn’t cool and I don’t actually want to subject people to it, and I want to do better. Just using myself as an example because it’s easiest. But this is one of those things where intentions do matter.

    15. It’s not about the coffee*

      Thanks everyone for the kind words and reassurance.

      Yesterday we spent 6-7 hours at his siblings house and he was back to his old usual self, relaxed, silly, etc. Even though the purpose of the visit was a serious reason, he wasn’t on edge like he’s been all week. If I look back and remember, he was fine for the most part on past visits when we stayed with one of his siblings. But now that his mothers moved back, he won’t stay with anyone else. It’s weird, she’s mostly nice to me and if I list out everything.. there’s nothing awful that she does. But my husband is always in a bad mood when around her so.

      As much as I like the idea of having him come alone, there are a few things here that I enjoy and would hate to miss. One of them being aside from my MIL I actually like seeing the other in-laws and hanging out with their kids. (And cat!). But for my own sanity, I won’t come for the next trip.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Or go for some of the time, staying at a hotel or the siblings’ house. Drive up together, fly home.

      2. Ramona Q*

        What she said to you about respecting him was awful. I’m glad you’ve decided not to stay there again. I hope you take folks’ other advice really seriously; this comment seems like it’s trying to look past or erase some really concerning and present dynamics in your family and the way they treat you.

      3. Managing to get by*

        Your MIL’s comment to you about needing to respect your husband, even when acknowledging he was treating you poorly, is telling. She seems to have some rigid ideas on gender roles within a marriage. Do they have much time alone together when you visit her, time that she could be belittling him about not being man enough in your marriage? Even though she is “nice” to your face, could she be saying awful things to him behind your back that make him feel conflicted?

        My ex-husband’s father, uncle and grandfather would periodically take him aside and lecture him on how he needed to learn to “control his wife”. Apparently I was too independent and opinionated, and I made them feel uncomfortable. After one of those lectures he would be just AWFUL to me for a few days, especially in front of his family. But even when he wasn’t being that bad, he was not a true partner in our marriage and treated me poorly in smaller ways.

        Are you SURE your husband is great when he’s away from his mother? It is very rare for someone to go from being just great to being just awful in a different environment. Are there things he says or does that you excuse him for when you’re home, but it’s just harder to make the excuses when the behavior is more concentrated like when you’re at his mother’s house?

        Can you talk to one of his siblings, or one of their spouses, about his change in behavior and the family dynamic? Do any of your other in laws have similar issues?

        What does your husband say when you talk about his change in behavior? Assuming this is something you talk about either before or after a trip?

        If you don’t talk about how his behavior changes around his mother, why is that?

    16. Jdc*

      We’ve all been there. We laugh now about our argument about onions. It was NOT about onions. My husband has done the grumpy thing before. Usually it’s because something is bothering him he hasn’t told me yet (in his case it takes him a few days to sort his thoughts). He shouldn’t be being rude to you of course but maybe a sit down to see what’s going on.

    17. LGC*

      Honestly, given the way you presented it here, it’s pretty obvious to everyone outside of the situation that it’s not about the coffee. Like, if you’d just spontaneously started crying because your husband got mad at you about asking to stop for coffee, then that’d be a bit odd. But he’d been sulking at you constantly for a week and you knew and this was the final insult.

      So yeah, it wasn’t what you wanted to do, but it’s totally understandable when you put it like that.

      But also, we need to talk about the last paragraph:

      No one in my life really gets it, how it feels to be living with someone who mostly acts like they can’t stand you. Friends and family say I need to toughen up, all men are like this, he’s one of the good ones etc. when we’re home alone he’s fine, it’s just whenever we visit his family he’s on edge. It’s been like this for years.

      There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll go backwards:

      – So why is he on edge with his family? Like, a lot of guys are terrible at talking about their feelings, but it seems like there’s something going on here. Is he better when his family visits you? Does his family generally like you (you know, aside from dismissing your feelings)? Like a lot of dudes, I think there’s some root cause that he’s refusing to acknowledge but has no idea how to deal with, so he’s just taking it out by being unpleasant.

      The bog-standard suggestion (which has probably been made at least 43 times already, by my count) is therapy. But in this case, it might be legitimate – you might not be the best person to work out his issues with his family, especially since you’re apparently the target of his issues.

      – As an actual real-life dude, I resent the implication that just because I’m a guy I have zero ability to deal with my emotions in a healthy manner. Like, he doesn’t need to be perfect, but would it kill him (and your family and friends) to acknowledge that just because he keeps a roof over your head and isn’t physically abusive he’s still being a jerk to you? And that in the Year Of Our Lord 2019 it isn’t that unexpected for men to work on their feelings?

      (Also, disclaimer: I’m not implying that he is abusive or even a jerk on a regular basis. He’s being a jerk on this trip, though!)

      – Finally – whoo. When I first hit the first sentence of this paragraph – where you said he mostly acts like he can’t stand you – I was all set to tell you to get a divorce lawyer on the line. (Therapy and divorce: the solution to all of life’s problems.) In the rest of it, it hopefully sounds like it’s just he turns into a jerk when you visit his family, which is something he needs to work on (perhaps with a licensed professional of his choosing). But if he’s regularly like that outside of that, then…to be honest, you deserve better than that. Maybe divorce is a step too far right now, but if he’s like this regularly you need to bring it up with him as soon as possible.

      Maybe he’s a decent man underneath it who’s…just not self-aware. I don’t know if he realizes that he is being that unpleasant to you (although honestly he should). If he is a decent guy, hopefully he’ll be ashamed at how he’s been behaving and find a way to work on it.

      – And then taking the 30,000 foot view, I think part of the reason you had a meltdown in front of your MIL and your husband is not only because he was being a jerk to you…but also because you felt powerless in that situation. (Same as a boss yelling.) Not only do you know he’s being a jerk, everyone else is telling you to put up with it because he does the Standard Man Things decently well. To use a Captain Awkward phrase, regardless of what happens, get a Team You behind you, because it sounds like that’s lacking in your life. (I’m glad that you think the AAM comments section is a Team You, but we might not be sufficient in this case!)

      Hopefully, you can entirely disregard the part about divorcing.

    18. GotTheTShirt*

      I’ve been in the same situation, but from the opposite side, and the best thing I can suggest is to wait until you’re home and things are calm, and then take your husband somewhere quiet for coffee, name what you’re seeing, and ask him what he thinks might help.

      In my case, the underlying issue sure wasn’t the coffee – it was my mother, and a lifetime of emotional abuse that had left me completely unable to resist her demands. She wanted my time, my money, my attention, my unquestioning obedience, and even there was a Litany of Sins she’d drag out if I failed to be the perfect daughter. Even if I realized the demands were unreasonable, which I didn’t always, she was my _mother_, and I owed her everything. Being around her was exhausting and painful, and if my husband made even minor requests they felt just impossibly unfair, because I had nothing else left to give. When I wasn’t around her, I could be a loving wife – but when I was there, I was a Dutiful Daughter, and nothing else. Not even just me.

      For me, it took a while. I needed first to understand that this wasn’t just how mothers and daughters are, and then I needed to find support for putting some distance between her and I. And I needed my husband’s help – he promised not to leave me alone with her, ever, and to help get us both out if I got overwhelmed. We came up with ways to ask “are you ok?” and signals for “we need to go now”, and we put boundaries on our interactions with my mother. I found other ways to channel the stress, and he found patience for me when I wasn’t handling it well at all.

      None of this is to say that his relationship with his mother is the issue, really, nor that you have any obligation to deal with it is. If you are willing and able, you might give him the support to get started, but that’s really all you can do. They’re his issues (whatever they are), and you can’t fix them for him. But no – the issue is not the coffee, and it’s not you, and from what you’re saying here I don’t think it’s even really him.

      1. BethDH*

        I’m behind reading these, but just wanted to say thank you for writing this. My husband has some similar patterns dealing with his family — and he/we are slowly working on them — but it helps so much to see this dynamic from a different person who shares his experience.

    19. It’s not about the coffee*

      We come from a culture where women are very much expected to take on traditional gender roles, the husband is the “god” and the wife must respect him at all times.

      Any man who doesn’t beat his wife, expect her to be a slave to his family, or cheat on her or do drugs or works hard is considered a good man.

      Im considered “lucky” because I “can” work, I “can” go out and see friends and am mostly independent. The bar is super low yet… it’s common for all men to make their wives upset and cry all the time.

      1. Ladybug*

        It’s not common to be upset and crying all the time. A relationship takes two people respectful of each other. Not all men are like this.

    20. Lilysparrow*

      All men are not like this.

      That said, I did have to get used to having less of my husband’s attention when we were visiting his family, because he (quite naturally) wanted to do a lot of catching up & quality time with people he sees only a few times a year. This was an adjustment for me, and I was a bit needy and grumpy for the first several years, which sometimes created tension between us that caused bickering.

      But that’s a far cry from “being extremely unpleasant” or “acting like they can’t stand you.” Not on the same scale at all.

      What does he say when you talk to him about it back home? I mean, you do bring it up, right? If he acknowledges that there’s a bad dynamic and wants to work on changing it, that’s something y’all can do. Maybe some communication coaching is in order. If he’s not willing to discuss it, or thinks it’s totally your fault or totally outside his control (like, “what can I do? that’s just the way Mom is..” etc) then coaching/counseling is definitely in order.

      People talk about marriage counseling like it’s some drastic last resort, which I think is an unhealthy attitude. Having a marriage-communication class or a few sessions with a counselor/therapist really is no different than going to physical therapy for a repetitive-stress injury, or getting dental work done.

      Life causes wear and tear, you know? On your body and on your feelings and relationships. Sometimes you need an adjustment or some extra care.

    21. Ladybug*

      I feel so bad for you. No, all men are not like this. Consider if it’s worth it or not. Sometimes it isn’t.

  7. Anony Mouse*

    We’re getting our hypoallergenic Siberian 5 months early(!!). It was supposed to be Spring, but someone had a “change in circumstances(?)” and was suddenly unable to adopt their kitty. (Not sure what that is, it’s not likely allergy-related). So, I got contacted 6 am about this kitty who needed a home, so we said yes :)
    Spent yesterday buying kitty supplies, cat tree, scratch pads, etc. on Amazon.

    1. We have a designated kitty safe room (spare bedroom with lovely window to people watch). How long do we put a 4 month old kitten there? We’ve heard definitely 1 week, plus if you’re away at work, so they don’t accidentally get hurt. (We each telework so the cat will see us most days of every week).

    2. We’re required to have a vet appt within 1st 72 hours of getting kitty. Do I sign up for pet insurance now (before getting the cat), with the 2 week waiting period then insurance kicking in just in time for that appt? (Or must I wait till the exact day we pick up the cat?)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Change in circumstances could range from any massive life upset that means they don’t have the attention to spare a new pet, to the more hesitant person convincing the other it wouldn’t be a good idea.

      1) I think we did about a week, though we had a dog for them to get used to as well. Spend a lot of time in the safe room, even if the cat is hiding under the bed (one of ours; the other was sitting on your lap) so they get accustomed to you. Take things at the cat’s pace re cuddling, bearing in mind that you are literally a giant that could crush it.

      2) I think pet insurance is used more for a fallback if they need expensive surgery at some point in the future. Regular check-ups, I wouldn’t worry about getting it in advance.

      1. fposte*

        Right, it’s not like human health insurance; you don’t need it to be a good pet parent. Some plans are tied to specific clinic chains (I guess that is like some human insurance), and it’s generally for catastrophic costs rather than checkups.

    2. Venus*

      1. For when you are home: Wait until they have had a solid poop (a move can be stressful and cause diarrhea) and when they show interest in life outside the room. For some cats this takes two weeks, and for others two hours.

      But yes – if you are going out for a while then leave them in the room, until you feel comfortable that they are ok.

    3. Venus*

      Also: Congrats! You must be very happy that you won’t have to wait :)

      And there are plenty of reasons that people can’t take in a pet at a specific time. When you take them in you want it to be a good time, when you can spend time with them. I have had people decline to adopt because of a parent’s death and knee surgery, and I could imagine loss of a job. In those cases they planned to adopt but decided to delay for a bit.

    4. Kuododi*

      I had one rescue kitty we had to use a safe room to help with adjustment. DH recommended I start with .5/1 hr and gradually increase as her comfort levels improved. I went in and sat quietly with her every day. (Would bring a book to read. Eventually she skulked over and climbed in my lap.).

      Fraid I have no data regarding pet insurance. We’ve always managed to pay out of pocket for our vet expenses. (More often than not paid on a payment plan.).

      Have great fun with the new family member!!! Blessings.

    5. Jackalope*

      I had pet insurance and ultimately didn’t find that it was worth it. They don’t pay for routine vet visits, or at lest they didn’t when I did research on them back when I got my cats. They won’t cover any preexisting conditions, and for some of them “preexisting” means, day, if your critter ever had a lump removed (even benign), all cancers, lumps, and any skin issues forever are not covered. Mine had fewer restrictions on what they covered, but I discovered that they had a $500 deductible per condition, which meant in practice that I could take my cats in for multiple conditions over the year, pay the vet thousands of dollars, and be reimbursed $40 for the whole year. I finally dropped it since I’d paid them a lot of money with almost no return. My recommendation now would be that you figure out how much money you would spend on premiums, and then set up a separate account at your bank and have them take that amount of your paycheck each month and deposit it into your pet account so you can self-insure. Feel free to ignore this if you would rather have the comfort of knowing the insurance is there for catastrophes, but this is what I wish I had done now.

      1. Venus*

        My impression was similar – there are some plans which cover regular visits, but they are more expensive, and in general the amount of money that you put in is equal or less to what you get out of it. Pet insurance tends to be for those who want coverage for $2000+ crises (broken leg, car accident, etc) but not for the day-to-day.

        1. PurpleMonster*

          I have some neighbours whose pet insurance wouldn’t pay out when their dog got attacked because the injuries didn’t get stitched (on the vet’s advice, because they needed to stay open to drain). I’ve never bothered myself but haven’t trusted pet insurance since that anecdote.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        My vet has an annual ‘pay $, get Y services’ plan option (you can also do by visit), which includes some testing, a tooth cleaning, x number of office visits, y% off emergencies. The cat’s about 15 with a thyroid problem, we’ll use all the visits, so 6mo here is about 2/3s the cost of what I spent with him over the last six months at the last vet’s. I’d definitely check it for 0 – 3 yo cats, but would have to do the cost analysis for 3 – 12yos, especially if they’re indoor.

    6. Dancing Otter*

      I signed up for PetSmart’s kitty health plan. It covers two visits a year, annual teeth cleaning, lab work, and discounts on everything else. (Check their website for details; I’m probably forgetting things.) It’s worked out well for us in terms of cost, but it isn’t disaster coverage, more like routine maintenance with the cost spread evenly through the year.

      Also, I’m pretty sure it kicks in on your first visit.

    7. Lucette Kensack*

      I have pet insurance through Healthy Paws and it has been incredibly helpful. You’ll need to submit medical records to get the insurance started, so there’s no need to start it until your kitty has been to the vet. You should get it set up ASAP after that, though, because any condition that is known about before you start coverage won’t be covered. You can set your deductible amount as well as your coverage amount (of course the lower deductible and higher coverage equates to a higher monthly payment). We got it for my 100% healthy puppy at 4 months old and pay around $25/month, with a $500 deductible and 80% coverage.

      We got the insurance because we never wanted to be in a situation where we decided not to give the dog medical treatment because we couldn’t afford it. (And because when we discussed how much we’d be willing to spend to save the dog my husband said a number that, at the time, would have bankrupted us… so it was self-protective!). As it turns out, my pup has severe allergies — which weren’t diagnosed until after we had the insurance, so is not a pre-existing condition — so it pays for itself over and over again because it covers her (lifelong) allergy shots and medications.

      The one deceptive thing about Healthy Paws is the way they calculate your spending toward the deductible. We have 80% coverage, so they only count 80% of what we pay out of pocket before we cover the deductible, so the $500 deductible is actually a $600 deductible.

    8. Don’t Think About a Cat*

      Yes, apply for insurance now. Generally, exams aren’t included anyway, and you might need the exam to finalize the coverage.

      I think your plan for the room is sound. I tell people to wait until the kitten is trying to get out (has explored the kitty room thoroughly).

      Been a cat vet for 15 years, and I’m still always happy to hear about someone getting a new little soul to love. All the best.

  8. Peloton Peeps*

    Anyone have a Peloton? I’m considering one since they are having a great special and would love any feedback.

    1. California Ltd.*

      I do, and I love it! We got it at my wife’s insistence over my reluctance about a year and a half ago. I thought I’d maaaybe do a few scenic rides. But I just did my 350th ride last week and ride around 3 times a week.

      I’m an introvert. I hate to leave the house. And yet I want structure in my exercise so Peloton is great for me. I can get in a half hour ride in the morning before work and know I’ve done something significant.

      And to be clear, I’ve never been a fitness buff or gym rat. It really is good for people at any level of fitness. I’ve gotten really into the PowerZone training which sounds a lot more macho than it is. But each of the trainers and class types has something to offer.

      As a Peloton convert, I highly recommend it.

    2. Caterpie*

      My apartment complex got one for the gym and its really great! Nice for beginners as well as people who like advanced workouts too. Just make sure to be aware of the monthly subscription cost to access the videos. My SO decided against getting our own when we found out it would cost more per month than all our other streaming services put together.

      If it fits in your budget I would definitely recommend it.

    3. All monkeys are French*

      We were seriously considering it but had a hard time swallowing the cost. We ended up getting a good-quality but much cheaper spin bike and subscribing to Peloton Digital. I’m really pleased with it. Neither I nor my partner are the type to care if we are virtually riding along with others or being shouted-out. We just like having the motivation of an instructor. I also like that the digital subscription includes lots of non-bike exercise options.

    4. Jdc*

      I want one so bad. My friend researched and got the Nordic Track one. Apparently it’s a bit cheaper and offers some more features such as the trainer can adjust your bike. Might be worth looking into.

    5. Call me St. Vincent*

      Have it and my husband and I are obsessed! Do it! You won’t regret it. The teachers are amazing! We agonized about it for almost a year then wished we had gotten it much sooner.

  9. Hstrylvr89*

    Accidentally posted in work open thread. Pretty sure everyone has had a doctor that brushes them off without really listing to you. I have been going to the doctor for three years complaining about pain everywhere, losing weight, bruising, etc. They would just brush me off telling me allergies and pulled muscles. Well I finally got mad in office and told them to pay attention to me and actually listen to what I said. They finally did blood work and other tests. I tested positive for early onset arthritis. And I have to go see a specialist because it is a high chance that I might have Lupus. Icing on top of the cake, I called my parents in tears. And the told me, THAT GOD MADE ME SICK, so that I would come back to the church I left. I am proud because this site has helped me learn how to stand up for myself, so I told them No, and hanged up.

    1. fposte*

      Holy crap, H, what a thing to hear from your parents.

      I think it’s pretty common for autoimmune stuff to take a while to be diagnosed, so you’re in good company (looks like it’s six years for lupus, in fact, so you may be ahead of the curve). It’s a huge shock to see your body differently and face the daunting range of possibilities, but at least now you’ll have some helpful tools at your disposal; I hope they help.

      1. Hstrylvr89*

        Definitely had the symptoms for longer, but the church I was a part of was doctor phobic, everything could be fixed by prayer, and if you did go to the doctor, it was god that healed you and not medicine :(

        1. fposte*

          Granted, I’m a lifelong atheist, but you’d think the doctor would at least get a little credit for being the person God worked through when nobody else was.

          Anyway, I’m glad you finally got some info and have potential for some improvement; one of the benefits of a diagnosis can be you actually get to feel better. I hope that’s true for you.

          1. Hstrylvr89*

            Leaving the church was definitely one of the reasons I became an atheist also. Maybe if the church had not been hardcore I would still believe. But leaving the church it was all or nothing for me. If you want to know what it was like, watch the movie Borat, the church scene is one of our sister churches, so when I watched it after I left, I was like I KNOW THOSE PEOPLE, lol

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              If you ever miss the support and community but want to avoid the bull, Universal Unitarians are pretty nice, and atheists are welcome. When they say Universal, they mean it.

          2. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Nope. If you’re cured, it’s God’s work. It’s only the doctor’s work when something goes wrong.

            Yes, this is a surprisingly common way of thinking and doctors loathe it for obvious reasons.

          3. Observer*

            And that’s how plenty of religious traditions see it. The doctor is the messenger – for good or ill.

        2. Grace*

          The more I hear about faith-healing beliefs, the more terrifying I find them.

          There’s a really good video from Footless Jo on YouTube where she talks about how horrific it is to be part of a faith-healing community as a chronic pain sufferer – she spent her entire teenage years being told that if she truly believed in god, she wouldn’t be in pain anymore, so clearly she didn’t want to get better. A lot of people in the comments were ones in similar situations – they all seemed to find it really cathartic to see someone with a reasonable platform calling it out so bluntly.

          1. Ariaflame*

            Yeah, whether religion or The Secret or whatever ‘positive thinking’ mumbo-jumbo it is I have no patience with victim blaming people for being ill and for not willing themselves or praying themselves into wellness.

    2. Lena Clare*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’m with you, it is so important to be heard and understood and I wanted you to know that I hear and understand you!

    3. Laura H.*

      God doesn’t work that way. I’m so sorry your mom brought it down to that.

      Being compassionate and meeting people where they are is huge. As a Catholic, I’m appalled on your behalf, and offer my prayers that you find good support, and have your people (we all have our go to people that help remind us that while it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, it’s not entirely doom and gloom either) to walk with you through your health issue.

      Internet hugs abound!

      1. Hstrylvr89*

        Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I left.i thought it was normal growing up that mental illnesses were because you weren’t praying enough, and stuff like schizophrenia was demon possession. Everything wrong could be fixed by enough prayer

        1. Laura H.*

          If it worked that way, I’d be running marathons and not need my walker… It doesn’t. Unfortunately, a lot of people who are religiously inclined don’t get that and also don’t know how to keep their mouths shut. Sorry you have to deal with that.

          1. Hstrylvr89*

            Comment disappeared, so reposting, one of my most embarrassing memories I have growing up was laying hands on one of the nicest man I have ever met. Completely paralyzed and telling the demon to leave him so he can walk again. He was in tears believing it would work. I believed it would work, of course it did not. Couldn’t apologize once I knew better because he still believed it was his fault, and it would go away if he prayed enough, and I didn’t want to patronize him or make him feel belittled for his faith in being cured

    4. Blueberry*

      I am so sorry both your doctor and your parents betrayed you like this. You did amazingly in standing up for yourself, and I’m cheering you on!

    5. Rebecca*

      I’m so sorry, and I’m glad you have a diagnosis. Lupus is one of the things my doctor’s office tested me for last Spring, and it was negative. I do have arthritis, though. I’m pretty sure God didn’t afflict me on purpose! As a Methodist, I’m sorry your parents said that to you, I believe in prayer too, but I also believe God gave us doctors and scientists and really smart people to help us, so I will say a prayer for healing, but I take my meds and do what the medically trained personnel tell me to do.

      For me, a prescription anti inflammatory drug plus muscle relaxants that I take at night when needed helped tons!! Good luck with finding meds and solutions. I’m lucky to have a PA who listens, does research, and finds things to help. I hope I can see her until I’m no longer on this earth!!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “God made you sick.”
      Your parents are making me sick.

      So if this is true then who do non-believers blame? Uh, maybe it’s our polluted planet? Maybe it’s the mess we have made here? And everyone in their congregation is perfectly healthy, right?

      The irony is not lost on me, it seems like when we are sickest we have to fight the hardest to get someone to listen and respect us. Good for you for fighting so hard and winning. You are a very strong person and I bet you don’t even realize how strong.
      I always told myself, I am the only one who needs to fully understand how crappy I feel on the inside. And that is because I am the only one who can do anything about it.

      Put in some good self-care this weekend, whatever that means to you. I will send out good vibes that it’s NOT lupus. You will have to let us know how you are doing.

      1. Hstrylvr89*

        I am just happy that it was not all in my head. My anxiety told me that I was just crazy and that everyone has aches and pains. when I went from wearing size 46 mens pants to 16 womens and constantly had a red face, i knew something was up just not what what so i went to the doctor. They pretty much just patted me on the head and said allergies and good on you for losing weight, even when i told them i hadn’t changed my diet or exercise routine. I was reading a random article and it had a picture of a woman with Lupus flush and it was like looking in a mirror. even then it took awhile for them to stop blowing me off. I asked for a different Doctor and in angry tears i asked them to actually listen to me that something is wrong with my body, who knows what it actually is but please actually run some tests instead of telling me to take some ibuprofen and rest. I was right in the end and even though my tests results are scary I like that I am now actually on a path to figuring out what is going on :)

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Good for you. One of the hardest things about coming from that kind of religion and background is to learn to value and advocate for yourself. You’re taught to ignore what you feel, that the reasons you thing are right are all wrong, etc. Keep on paying attention to you – your body, your feelings, they all matter, and are important, and are worth supporting. Good luck.

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I’m sorry about the doctors.

      Your parents are making God sound like the bad guy–“you left me, so I’m going to hurt you until you come back and apologize.” I don’t believe in God, but if I did, and I thought God was like that, I’d say eff this, I’m going to hell anyway, I’m not going to bow and scrape to an abuser.

    8. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      Oh wow! I’m sorry you went through that (I’ve definitely left doctors because I didn’t think they really took me seriously, and my current doctor and I have a great relationship because I just explained straight up exactly what I expected from our relationship. It’s not easy!). And it sucks that your parents hear about these medical issues and try to use them as an opening to get you back into their religion! That’s awful. But I’m glad you’re here and feeling better about life, and you’re on the path to actually knowing (and thus being able to treat) your condition(s). Yay!

    9. The Rat-Catcher*

      My parents told me that everything from my depression to my chronic headaches resulted from not going to church and being “right with God.” I’m so sorry – they really can’t be part of your self care right now. Most of the world knows that you are in the right here. I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit of treatment.

  10. MOAS*

    I am so tired of defending my tastes and preferred aesthetic. I know I will never be “classy/sophisticated/elegant/luxurious” and I am fine with that.

    I gravitate towards pink. And flowers. and sparkle. Sometimes I wish some young girls clothes came in adult sizes. I’m in my 30s and more comfortable with what I like and I express it through my wardrobe and styling. for home, it’s a small piece here and there.

    Anyway I saw a really pretty pot at Walmart and asked for some opinions on one of my FB groups. Most were helpful but some were saying (nicely) it doesn’t fit their aesthetic. I had to bite my tongue to not respond back snarkily that It’s not going in their kitchen or home (and the design wasn’t even my question!)

    For various reasons that I won’t get in to here, I have NEVER been able to have an apartment/home where I can decorate the way I want. I just think some women esp in that group don’t realize that not everyone has the luxury of being able to design their own kitchen to their desired aesthetic. Its just…I am tired of defending my tastes.

    1. Washi*

      Whoops, re-posting in the right spot!

      I’m a little confused about why you posted asking people for their opinions, if you really like the pot and don’t want to hear about others not liking it. If you’re happy with your taste, no need to run it by others.

      1. MOAS*

        The post was about the product itself, if it holds up well to being in the oven/on a stove etc. asking about products use & performance is a very very common thing in the group.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think Washi was saying that the post was inappropriate–it’s that it was to elicit other’s opinions, and now you’re unhappy you received them. Even if you try to restrict people’s feedback in advance by saying “Does anybody know if this is dishwasher safe?” or even “I’d really like to focus on practical aspects and not aesthetics” people will tell you all kinds of thoughts, because you asked for their thoughts. So maybe posting for people’s opinions isn’t a good idea if you’re stressed.

          The other thing, though, is you say you’re tired of defending your taste. The way to solve that is to stop defending :-). Everybody’s taste is horrible to somebody–really, many, many somebodies–and it’s not inherently a sign of a flaw in you or them that somebody doesn’t like the thing you do. I think you’re stuck in considering their judgment important and something you need to change or argue with, but what if you, as Anon Here suggests, just own it instead? The answer to “I don’t like the color” doesn’t have to be “Lots of people like goose poop!”; it can be a shrug and “Good thing it’s mine and not yours then.”

          1. MOAS*

            I was annoyed about the irrelevant comments. If I’m asking “hey how does this kitchen appliance perform?”, by all means tell me if it’s performance is good or bad. Just saying the color is ugly is irrelevant.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, it is. But that’s part of what you get when you ask people for opinions–you can’t custom-order the ones you want. Given that, it’s worth considering whether asking for opinions is worth it. Can you find the gold amid the dirt and be happy, or will you be too annoyed with the dirt? Keep in mind the people on a random FB group have no idea that you feel like nobody lets you keep your house the way you want it; they think they’re just talking about toaster colors.

              1. MOAS*

                True. This was the first time I posted about a product so I know better for next time lol. It’s a cooking group so there’s a lot of involvement for recipes, cooking methods, appliances etc. really good resource for ideas and all.

            2. tangerineRose*

              Tell yourself that the people who tell you they don’t like this color are clearly people who either aren’t paying much attention to your post (or they’d realize you didn’t ask), or they are over-sharers. Either option makes life harder for those people.

              I’m older than you, and I love pink too.

          2. MOAS*

            That’s true, I’m more comfortable with expressing my self via clothing and makeup (so I have a lot of skirts and floral prints) and have no problem shutting down negativity.

            I think the deeper issue was just that I was frustrated because I have never been able to design my living space the way I’ve wanted—yet people (close family) say I have no taste. My moms like “every woman desires to have a beautiful home and you don’t”. Anyways that’s kind of a different topic altogether lol

            1. kt*

              Hmm…. I don’t think that’s a different topic, actually!

              I think that’s really relevant!

              Don’t have a lot of good advice. Here are my two wacky Sat. afternoon ideas: 1) decorate the inside of a closet or cabinet exactly the way you want. I think Martha Beck and Marie Kondo both mentioned this as an idea; it’s kind of a private space where you can express yourself personally. 2) Watch Queer Eye on Netflix: I like they way they think about bringing a person’s personality and values into a space. I don’t like everything they do, but honestly it’s given me the most ideas for my home because they’re often just sprucing up this & that rather than doing some ridiculous remodel into an open floor plan with shiplap in a life I will never, ever have. On the other hand, I can relate to making a boring, messy bedroom prettier through some curtains & a nice trash can :)

    2. Anonie*

      Agree with the other commenter. No need to ask for opinions if you’re comfortable with your taste and what you like. Plus, facebook groups are the last place to get good advice.

      1. MOAS*

        It’s not just internet people. My friends/family do it too but it’s more good natured ribbing/teasing. It doesn’t feel bad in the moment when my friends do it. It’s the strangers/not friends who mock. And I can tell when they’re mocking.

        1. fposte*

          But it sounds like mostly people *don’t* mock; you said, “Most were helpful but some were saying (nicely) it doesn’t fit their aesthetic.” Nothing in there is mocking. Nobody here is mocking. Now it may be that even hearing your thing wasn’t their aesthetic was hard for you when you feel like a taste outlier already (or maybe you were thinking of a different encounter). Which leads again to the “Consider if the mixed bag that is internet opinion is going to be good for you right now” notion.

          But think of Jamie and her Hello Kitty life theme and pink Mustang. There are no doubt people who mock that. Do you think Jamie loses any sleep over it? It sounds like you might have some internal stuff going on about wanting to be admired for your taste, and that’s why it’s so hard for you when your taste gets questioned. But nobody’s taste is universally admired, and, as several people have mentioned it, what gets admired generally is *owning* your taste, not just being able to match earth tones in a room.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Adding, earth tones or black and white kitchens are not your anesthetic. That doesn’t make anyone right or wrong, it’s just a statement of what is.

            When my cousin and I grew up and set up our own kitchens, we were both kinda surprised. She wanted a pink kitchen and I had earth tones. We both had a hard time picking stuff out for each other. Well, we were young and still developing our own sense of style for one thing. But we were also unfamiliar with the other’s chosen themes. We were each too busy figuring out our own stuff we had no brain space left for the other person’s stuff. It was kind of weird for a while. Finally she landed on a certain pattern at Penneys. Phew, I FINALLY knew what to get her. It was a journey.

            1. fposte*

              One friend and I are big on gift-giving, and while we’re both pretty in tune with the other’s design sense, I’d say our tastes are cousins but not siblings :-). So it’s kind of interesting to see my aesthetic reflected through hers and vice versa when we’re giving. It’s like our tastes got together and had a baby.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I am laughing. A decade or so later, my cousin showed me things she had, “I got this because it reminded me of something you’d like or say that it was pretty cool.”
                Again, I was shocked.

                I can picture ten years out, OP, finds similar stories.

    3. Anon Here*

      Live it up! Celebrate your tastes! When people make comments, take it as a sign that they’re not cool enough to appreciate you. You can respond any way you want, but drop them a notch lower on your list of people to spend time with.

      I can relate. My taste ranges from “good” to “bad.” But if you just embrace your own style and really stop caring about judgment, you’ll give off a confident vibe that others will gravitate to. Being yourself enthusiastically is always good for your social life (though filtering of some people can be a side effect).

    4. Perpetua*

      I’m sorry you haven’t had the chance to live surrounded by things you truly enjoy, and I do hope something changes in that regard. IMO, sophistication is overrated – we are all different and why shouldn’t we get to enjoy the things we like?

      I recommend the book Joyful by Ingrid Fettell Lee if you can get your hands on it (she also has a website – aestheticsofjoy.com). I think you might like it and find some validation for your preferred aesthetic in it. :) Which is the type of validation I think will be useful, and not something you’re likely to find in FB groups.

        1. Perpetua*

          I hope you like it! I really enjoyed it and I think we could all benefit from infusing more joy into our lives and not feeling guilty about it :)

    5. Meepmeep*

      Why do you need to defend your taste? Own it. This is what you like. Taste is by definition subjective and it can’t be wrong.

      I love bright primary colors and try to surround myself with colorful things. They make me feel happy. I refuse to apologize or minimize something that makes me feel happy.

    6. Orange You Glad*

      Sounds like you have a lot of Youthful and/or High-Spirited style essences! Yay!!

      John Kitchener has seven style essences that he uses:
      Natural (comfortable, outdoorsy)
      Romantic (rich, luscious)
      High Spirited (textured, variety)
      Dramatic (high contrast, avant-garde)
      Youthful (cute, colorful)
      Classic (traditional, symmetrical)
      Angelic (ethereal, fae)

      Different people have different proportions of the essences.

      So you might be 40% Youthful, 30% High-Spirited, and 30% Romantic.

      That’s a VERY different aesthetic than someone who is 60% Classic, 30% Dramatic, 10% Youthful.

      Those two people would like very different styles of dress, home decor, etc.

      Knowing about style essences has given me a lot of confidence in why I like what I like and also deeper understanding of why specific people will *never* understand or like my aesthetic.

      1. Orange You Glad*

        My essences are 40% Natural, 40% Romantic, 20% Youthful.

        So I wear colorful feminine clothes I can comfortably sit on the ground in at any moment.

        I have an electric blue blender instead of a black one. Red sheets instead of white. Rainbow shower curtain, bright yellow dish towels, etc.

        That’s MY style and it works for ME.

        I support you in YOUR style that makes YOU happy!!

      2. MOAS*

        That’s so fascinating! I’ll read up more about it.

        I find everything pretty and tasteful and nice. I go to ppls houses and Ive never seen decor I hated. But when I’m in a store, I just naturally gravitate towards the blingy & colorful lol

        Clothing I’ve mastered pat. Interior design, I’m clueless lol

        1. lasslisa*

          I wonder if you might also be trying to get the most “bang” out of a limited number of style choices. Especially if you’ve never had your own space to decorate, smaller things would need to carry more weight of personality and happiness; the same way an accent wall is usually brighter than you would paint the whole room.

          1. lasslisa*

            Oh and just in case it’s not clear: this is a totally normal and fine reaction! If I have to wear a uniform except for my earrings, the most “me” earrings I can get away with are going on. If I can wear a dress in my favorite color that I like the fit of, maybe the little pearl studs are closer to the overall balance I want.

    7. LGC*

      So…I actually want to know if they thought that you were also open to opinions on the aesthetic. Or rather, that it was clear you weren’t open to opinions on it. Because I can definitely see myself saying something like that if I thought it was somewhat relevant. (I’m an idiot, if that counts for anything.)

      I think it was smart to not clap back because I don’t think it would have mattered much. I don’t know if they were saying you had bad taste for your cookware choices, just that the pot wasn’t their type. But…like, I know you’re tired of defending your choices, but you could drop a note in the next post you do that says you’re just looking for feedback on performance, not on looks.

      1. MOAS*

        I didn’t want to clap back since one of the people who commented is someone I’ve known for years. We’re friendly but not friends. Didn’t seem worth it to Be rude to her….I just ended up Privately sending her pix of a home from the 1960s famous for crazy decor and a devil smiley face. Lol.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          There is a pink retro oven for sale at a store near me. I so want someone I know to buy it. It is just so cool– er, maybe hot in this case.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      There’s nothing juvenile about pink. Check out the number of little old ladies wearing pink because it flatters aging complexions and white hair. Of course, there are shades and shades of pink, and the sparkles are certainly a matter on which people can differ, but there’s nothing wrong with pink.

    9. Jdc*

      When I was finally single added pink into my home. A decent amount, and some sparkle. If it makes you happy do it. I toned down some for my husbands sake but oh how I want this pink velvet sofa, although it would go better in a formal living room which we currently don’t have.

    10. LDP*

      I can relate to this! I wear a lot of pink and loud patterns and people always comment on it. I try to focus on how much better I feel with the colors and prints on/around me.

      Also, I would recommend checking out some Lilly Pulitzer stuff if you haven’t already. The ladies that rock Lilly sound like they would fit right into the aesthetic you described!

    11. MissDisplaced*

      There’s nothing wrong with liking pink and sparkles. I’m not sure why you can’t at least fill your own room with pink sparkly things?

      Anyway, I used to watch ‘What Not To Wear” and they had lots of suggestions to help people incorporate their unique and/or quirky style into age and work appropriate style, whether it was love of cuteness, costumes or die hard punk. Even so though, they always said that in your home you can be free to express that style in other ways. So I hope you find a way to carve out a space you’ll love.

  11. Juddddddy*

    One thing I’ve learned (the hard way) is that when there are a ton of warning signs, or literal people warning you, it’s ignorant to think, “Well, it won’t happen to me because I’m different.”

    It doesn’t matter if you’re different if the situation is the same!

    Case in point: if your landlord complains about her tenants, there are constantly people moving out, and you have to jump through hoops to live there……. it’s likely the landlord is also going to complain about YOU and kick YOU out too.

    It’s hard to differentiate because a place I lived last year, I moved out because my roommate sexually assaulted me (I went to the police and actually it was just “harassment” because she didn’t manage to insert anything into my nether regions, wtf). So instead of arresting her, they just wrote a report, which does nothing, and then told me they recommended I move out.

    But just because a negative thing happened doesn’t mean I’M a red flag. I also don’t mention it when I get new apartments. Like, “This apartment is great, there’s good light, I like the kitchen, but… I don’t know… I’m trying to find a place where my roommate won’t try to sexually assault me.”

    So I think it’s understandable why I would get confused between red flags and unfortunate circumstances.

    I had a job where everyone warned me in the first few weeks to be careful because everyone is let go after 6 months, and I just thought, “Oh, well, I’m different so it’ll be different. I have more experience.” WRONG. Same fate.

    I know this is the non-work forum so I’ll just leave that there.

    1. Blueberry*

      “One thing I’ve learned (the hard way) is that when there are a ton of warning signs, or literal people warning you, it’s ignorant to think, “Well, it won’t happen to me because I’m different.””

      This is so, so true. I’m so sorry people have put your through all this anguish, and I hope things improve for you.

    2. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I think when your earliest experiences are negative or dysfunctional (whether it be living situations or jobs), you normalize it since you don’t have a better benchmark. I’m just here to remind you that tenants frequently being kicked out, employees frequently being fired, and having boundaries violated are totally NOT normal and you should never put up with those things.

      1. Juddddddy*

        I lived in a great place for 5 years from 22-27. It was rent-controlled, and I lived by myself. I had to move out because it was old and there was mold in the walls (though the landlord said he couldn’t see it and he didn’t smell it so it didn’t exist). It would’ve been hard to fight without them tearing down the walls, and I felt like it would be better to experience something else anyway.

        Since then, I’ve had to move every 1-5 months. It’s been 4 years of this. Some were month-to month, but some were actual year-long leases that still kicked me out. It never gets easier. It never gets better. I felt the same as you did, but now I don’t have a choice but to just accept this is my life now. It’s so extreme it’s like… I wouldn’t believe if someone told me this was their life!

        My hope is that in a year and a half, I’ll have enough credit and money saved up that I can live somewhere with a lower COL in a newer place.

      2. Juddddddy*

        I posted a comment but I guess it got flagged because it doesn’t show up.

        Well, that’s essentially my life now!

        It wasn’t always like this. Only the last 3 years. Welcome to student loans ruining your life so you can never live alone!

        1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

          I sympathize. When I just graduated, I ended up in a couple of demeaning housing situations due to having very little income and not many housing options, living in an expensive city. One experience was particularly so horrible that even some of my best friends and close relatives don’t know about it because I never retell it. The only friend who knows was in regular communications with me as it was happening, and the only members of my family who knows are my parents because I had to move in with them until finding a more stable place to live. Yikes.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          A good room mate (pays bills, doesn’t yell / fight / assault(!) / steal) is worth their weight in gold. I’ve always roomed with someone I know, usually for a year or two, but that was easier back when we were college students / young professionals. Maybe ask around about whether your co-workers, friends or family know someone who wants to move to your area, or is in the area and needs a room mate?

          I wish there was a Tinder for room mates, though to be useful it would have to include credit score and references. Or maybe like LinkedIn, so you can see which FOAFs are looking.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Income-based repayment helps, even though I will never actually repay them unless I get them reduced by *A PLAN*, win the lottery, or magically someone else pays them off. I cannot live with roommates. I’ve tried. I have terrible luck with them. Either I get someone noisy, someone who won’t pay their share, or like one time in college, they ganged up on me and kicked me out so they could move a friend in my place.

          Living with a parther is different, obviously; there’s a different dynamic there. But I won’t move in with another man unless we have a date set in the very near future.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Parther…sheesh. PARTNER

            A parther: a rare and magical beast that shares the housework and keeps the rat population down.

    3. lasslisa*

      I figure I may be different from *some* people, but I’m not different from *most* people.

      Like they say, if all your exes were “crazy”…

    4. Lilysparrow*

      You have to learn to trust yourself on the “no’s” before you can really trust yourself on the “yesses”.

      Take some time to be over-cautious and potentially miss out on some “great opportunities”. Let every flag be a red flag without worrying about whether you misjudged someone. Your first obligation is to protect yourself, and it’s not mean or rude to turn down a person or situation you’re not sure of. You don’t owe your trust to anyone.

      It’s an important stage in developing/calibrating your risk assessment and sense of security. After a while, you will have built up a stronger inner sense of safety, and you’ll be able to make finer distinctions between “no” and “proceed with caution.” Or between what types of risk you’re looking at – financial? Reputational? Physical?

      An important part of risk-assessment and risk-management is understanding what type and scale of risk you’re willing to take because you’re prepared to cope with the fallout if you’re wrong. Another part is knowing how to compare risk with benefit.

      1. Juddddddy*

        I think when you’re living in poverty, you have to put up with a lot of crap. You see the warning signs and have pretty much no other option. Sigh.

  12. Argentina Travels?*

    Hi! Looking for people who’ve traveled to Argentina. Looking for a good mix of fun city and adventure travels. Already set on Buenos Aires and possibly Cordoba. Looking into Patagonia cities for hiking and nature. Has anyone been to Patagonia and if so, what recommendations do you have? Prefer towns that aren’t super touristy and that haven’t lost their original charm to attract more tourists. I’d like an authentic Argentine experience with the food, music and culture.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      It’s been – wow – decades, but I spent time in Mendoza, which is gorgeous. I don’t remember being particularly impressed with Salta – it was just a place I had to go through to get to Paraguay. (I was traveling by bus from Chile to Ecuador.)

      I also went to Patagonia, but on the Chile side. My friends hiked and camped in Torres del Paine, but I am way too lazy for that. Torres is for serious hikers, BTW. You have to check in with the rangers and you are required (or were, at the time) to go in pairs.

      My friend and I stayed at a hostel in the park. Even in a modest hostel where the room was so small that we had to be in the beds to close the door, it was very expensive compared to the rest of Chile. The food in the restaurant was also very very expensive but it was our only option. This was in 1994, so I expect things have changed. (I hope they have!) Had my friend and I known how expensive it was, we would have brought our own food in. We were hungry!

      We also stayed in Punta Arenas, which is/was at the time a very cute little town.

      1. Teal*

        I was in Torres Del Paine this time last year. SO BEAUTIFUL OMG. You must have a permit and if you are hiking the W or O trail, you can stay in the refugios (cabins) or specified camp grounds.

        I also stayed in Punta Arenas and we arrived on a Sunday and it was dead. I would absolutely try and go to “Penguin Island”/Isla Magdalena if you are there.

        I also took a day trip to Perito Moreno in Argentina from Chile. So amazing!

        1. Argentina OP*

          Torres Del Paine looks absolutely stunning. I’ve been looking at Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (I think Perito Moreno is part of that national park (?!?).

    2. Lora*

      Buenos Aires: stay somewhere in Palermo or Recoleta for clubs, music sort of thing. The two fancy parillas are Don Julio’s and La Cabrera, but totally worth it. You can walk or get the bus and taxis are also cheap and plentiful at all hours. Plan to have dinner around 9pm, eat for three hours, then go out to events around midnight. It is not a city for morning people.

      Re: authentic. Unless you are a fairly advanced tanguero/tanguera yourself, you will want to go to La Catedral and El Beso as they are MUCH more beginner friendly. DNI school does classes and performances that are very good also for beginners.

      Salon Canning, club Gricel, some of the snootier clubs, you will be only allowed to people-watch because there are Rules about interfering with the dance floor when the good dancers are doing their thing. If you want to go just to people-watch, there may be assigned seats, and you should dress very nicely. Not necessarily a tux, but men should wear a suit and good shoes with slick leather soles and women should wear a cocktail dress and heels. People really dress up for the older, more conservative clubs. And never walk on the dance floor in your street shoes, if you need the restroom or want to order something at the bar (though if there are assigned seats there’s usually waiters too), walk around the back of the chairs, not on the dance floor. It’s definitely extremely authentic but they have no sense of humor whatsoever.

      1. Argentina OP*

        Thank youuu! I’ve been looking at some Milongas and my husband and I are going to take up some tango dancing classes. We’ll see what happens :P the Milonga rules are super strict!

        1. Lora*

          Just remembered: get an app called Como Llego. It will help a LOT with figuring out what’s the best way to get from (wherever) to (somewhere else) whether that’s bus, taxi, etc.

          Also, you will definitely need to get your phone unlocked and figured out for Argentina specifically. They do not have Verizon or AT&T at all, and their electronics tariffs are so huge that even a burner phone costs several hundred US$$. On the plus side, if you have any old electronics you don’t want anymore, you can clean your old info off and sell them on craigslist for just about the cost of your plane ticket.

    3. wristy*

      I did a 3 or 4 day hiking trip in Nahuel Huapi National Park, near Bariloche. Very beautiful. Also, the far south (los glaciares), but my feeling is the weather can be a bigger factor the farther south you go.

      1. Argentina OP*

        Did you stay in Bariloche? The national park looks beautiful but I worry that Bariloche will be a bit too touristy for me. An Argentinian friend of mine also said that a lot of youngsters in their last year of college head down there as their “last trip” before entering the workforce.

    4. HurricaneLys*

      I was in Argentina for work last year in the Cordoba region. It was really fun! The city I was based out of was Rio Cuarto, which isn’t touristy at all. If you visit towns that aren’t often visited by tourists, it is definitely useful to know some Spanish. In Rio Cuarto, hardly anyone spoke English. I had friends based out of Villa General Belgrano, which is closer to the city of Cordoba, and they loved it. I visited them, and have to agree. It is a german town, with lots of good food, shops, and sites to explore (both in the city and in the surrounding area). I also spent some time in Mendoza wine tasting, and I think it was my favorite city I stayed in! In Buenos Aires, I recommend the Palermo area, which had easy access to all the tourist destinations and had many restaurants and bars walking distance from my hotel.

  13. Spoons please*

    Anyone have a hands free headset for their Android cell phone that they like? I want to be able to talk while I walk without holding the phone to my ear. I tried a BlueFit Bluetooth that had decent reviews on Amazon but the sound was dismal.

      1. Spoons please*

        I’d prefer Bluetooth but am willing to try headphones. I would guess it needs a mike feature. Which do you have?

        1. Ron McDon*

          I think they’re Sony, but they don’t seem to have a brand or model name on, sorry!

          They do have a mic so I can make and receive phone calls – I too don’t like carrying my phone.

          I like to listen to the radio/podcasts when I walk, and I like to use these headphones because there are volume up/down buttons where the mic is, so I can adjust the volume without fishing my phone out of my bag.

    1. AnonLurker Appa*

      I have some Sennheiser bluetooth headphones that I like, Very good sound quality. Not sure of the model, but similar to their CX7.00BT model.

    2. Ariaflame*

      I don’t use android, but I have friends who do and we use Aftershokz wireless bone conduction headphones. I’ve currently got the Trekz air model. They rest over your ears and onto your cheekbones and the sound goes straight to your ear canal via the cheekbones. Without blocking your ears from hearing other things. Bluetooth and I find the sound quality just fine. And some buttons so you can answer calls just by tapping a button on the headphones. Built in microphone.

      Not hugely cheap I admit but not hugely expensive compared to a lot of headphones and earpieces.

  14. Sunflower*

    I am in Barcelona this weekend (i live in the US). I have been told by friends that the skincare items at the farmacia here are much stronger and better than the products in the US. Is this accurate? I would love to pick up some stuff but am not big on skincare and totally lost on what is worth it.

    1. Lena Clare*

      It’s a long time since I lived in Barcelona, but the stuff you could buy over the counter was good quality, and I could get stuff over the counter there that was only on prescription here in the UK, so yeah go for it.

  15. Lena Clare*

    I just watched Preacher on Amazon and I am devastated by the ending. I mean, it was great but so, so poignant.

    I’m looking for something else to watch now. Any recommendations? Preferably happy and not-so-violent stuff
    I stick with BBC iplayer, Netflix and Amazon (UK).

    1. fposte*

      I don’t know if you can get these (Netflix UK is like Amazon in having some differences from US, I think), but have you watched Derry Girls? The Detectorists?

    2. ThatGirl*

      Schitt’s Creek has a terrible name but it is such a sweet, funny, heartwarming show. It’s on Netflix.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yes yes yes!! I love Schitt’s Creek!!

        Derry Girls is hilarious. I’m working my way through that now after getting caught up on Peaky Blinders (very violent, probably not what you want).

    3. only acting normal*

      That last scene :’(

      Happy and not so violent antidotes (and wracking my brain because mostly I gravitate to pitch dark horror):
      Good Omens on Amazon
      The Good Place on Netflix

    4. Lena Clare*

      I’ve seen all of these wonderful recommendations, thank you, except for The Detectorists, so thanks to fposte for that – it’s going on my list! Have a good weekend :)

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Over the Garden Wall is an adorable charming thing with great music. It took me an episode or so to get into it, but I wasn’t sorry. If you decide you *do* want to go back to ‘Preacher’ levels of dark, ‘Black Sails’ is pretty great. First few episodes are a bit “we’re like Game of Thrones, but with Pirates” but it gets reaaaally good the more it goes on, and the ending is as good as GoT was bad.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Thank you! I will look out for these, they sound interesting – I haven’t heard of them before.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      We just started watching The Feed last night, I think on Amazon, hard to stop. Strong yes to Good Omens – my fave book for over a decade, they did a great job in the adaption, though they left out my favorite part (Things Not Working Properly Even After You’ve Given Them A Good Thumping, and No Alcohol Lager).

      I am always and forever a fan of Midsomer Murders, but having read Preacher, I am pretty sure any movie about it would be waaaay too violent for me.

    7. Lena Clare*

      Ah no I couldn’t get into Peaky Blinders! Derry Girls reminds me of school. It’s brilliant.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I didn’t either at first; I don’t normally care about *gangster* type stuff. I was only watching it because of Sam Neill and Cillian Murphy but after plowing through a couple of seasons, I got really into it.

  16. Arya Parya*

    Any advice for a stubborn case of sinusitis? I’ve had it for a few weeks now. It seemed to finally go away a week ago, but came back with a vengeance about three days ago.

    I use salt water to rinse out my sinuses. I use a decongestant. And I use ibuprofen and tylenol to manage the pain, because tylenol on its own hardly does anything for the pain.

    Anything else I can do?

    1. fposte*

      As I noted here a few months ago, I thought for years I had sinus issues and it turned out they were migraines, and apparently that’s true of most sinus headaches. Is that a possibility for you? It looks like fever and nasal discharge are important in marking it as a sinus infection, and they tend to be bilateral whereas migraines are often one-sided. There’s also a thing called a contact or contact point headache, more common in people with a deviated septum, where the septum touches the turbinates and pinches a nerve, which leads to one-sided face pain in various locations.

      Obviously that’s more for a doctor to say, but if that sounds like a possibility I’d consider something like Afrin (a topical OTC decongestant that shrinks the membranes) and asking the doctor if a prescription level of ibuprofen might be helpful from an anti-inflammatory standpoint or if there’s something else they’d prescribe. And if it is a migraine/contact headache, the key is to get in there and nuke it from orbit ASAP rather than waiting to see if it gets better.

      Sorry. Pain that doesn’t quit sucks.

      1. Natalie*

        With Afrin and similar you can get into the rebound congestion cycle, which might seem like ongoing sinusitis if you’re not familiar with it. So definitely follow the dosing instructions!

    2. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      If it’s a sinus *infection*, the only thing that I’ve found works reliably (other than passage of time, and prayer) is begging a doctor for antibiotics. And I mean begging; they’re more and more reluctant to give antibiotics, even though they work (I realize the reasons why are totally valid).

      Ordinary sinusitis is trickier. A saline solution sprayed or dripped into my nose has been good at helping me feel more comfortable. Ibuprofen does work, though not for a long period of time. Avoiding extremely dry and warm rooms is helpful — I’ve had fewer bouts with sinusitis since I moved from an apartment that was chronically heated to 76-80 degrees to one with a somewhat more modern heating system that’s usually in the 68-72 range. That’s a harder problem to solve, though.

      1. Colette*

        I sleep with a humidifier in the winter, which helps. (Which is why I’ve felt vaguely sick from September until I remembered I should be doing that last weekend. Sigh.)

        1. StellaBella*

          Are you using pillows and duvets you are allergic to? Can you change to new anti allergy bedding etc?

    3. Sinus issues*

      What works for me is to take a bunch of cloves of garlic and put them in boiling water, take a towel and put over your head, and breath in the garlic steam. Additionally, you can take some of the garlic water (when cooled) and snort it into your sinuses. It really helps with the congestion and garlic has anti-bacterial properties and it’ll be super diluted.

    4. blackcat*

      Both for me and several folks I know, it has helped to cut out diary for 2-4 weeks. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but a placebo effect is still something…

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        When I was growing up, my family pediatrician always said to cut out dairy during a respiratory illness, because dairy promotes the production of mucous, which will make the ailment last longer. It probably isn’t the placebo effect.

    5. Una*

      Wish I had more helpful tips, but just wanted to note that decongestants can actually cause rebound congestion if you use them for too long. I try to only use them occasionally when I have a really bad day.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Try spicy Thai soup – like Tom Yum Gai. So spicy it makes you cry and your nose run = clears everything out.

    7. Observer*

      Second checking out migraines.

      Another thing to try is thyme. Steam yourself (same as the garlic process below) and drink the tea (teaspoon steeped in a cup of hot water, twice a day) during the sinus season.

    8. WS*

      Decongestant nasal sprays should be used for 3-5 days at most, because they cause rebound congestion. However, many nasal sprays marketed for allergies contain a steroid, and those are designed to use long term (Nasonex, Rhinocort etc.) I’ve had chronic sinus issues all my life, complete with several surgeries that each worked for a while, and a doctor put me onto a (non-prescription) spray three years ago. Since then I’ve had only one sinus infection, which is astonishing for me!

      1. Hooray College Football!*

        I rinse my sinuses with saline, and my ENT has me add pulmacort, a steroid used in nebulizers, in my rinse. She also recommended adding Alkolol, an OTC liquid made for rinsing sinuses. She said saline alone won’t dissolve the gunk in my head. It helps, but I still get infections 7-8 times a year. My doctor will call in a RX for antibiotics without seeing me at this point. I also have a standing RX for prednisone when they get really swollen. Looking at surgery to fix my reflux. I can sometimes feel the acid in my sinuses, so maybe that is contributing to the constant inflammation.

    9. moql*

      Left field, but I’ve had sinus issues my whole life and the only things that really help are antibiotics or acupuncture. I try to avoid antibiotics (was told at an early age that being on them for 1-2 months a year is terrible for my body), so I don’t really care if the needles are a placebo as long as they work.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This may sound odd, but how long since your last dental checkup? Upper jaw tooth trouble can masquerade as headache. I am not a dentist or a doctor.

  17. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

    It’s a long story, but I have about 4.5 free hours to spend in Philadelphia one day this week during the daytime. I’ll be traveling by Amtrak. What should I see in the 4.5 hours? I’m pretty sure I’m going to go to Reading Terminal Market but the rest of my time is a blank slate.

    I’ve already seen the Liberty Bell; meh, it’s a bell with a crack in it. I loved the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but there’s probably not enough time to do it justice on this brief return trip. It’s embarrassing, as someone who lives just 90 miles away, but I’m blanking out on what else is in Philadelphia. Bonus points if there’s a really good used record store or bookstore that I can get to by a train or bus that runs from the Amtrak station or by walking. Thanks in advance!

    1. Kathenus*

      You mention the Liberty Bell, but to me the best place in Philly is Independence Hall. If you haven’t visited that I’d highly recommend it. I’ve been there numerous times but every time I find myself back there with a little free time it’s my first stop.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I love Independence Hall but you do need a free, timed ticket now. You can get it at the visitors center across the street.

    2. Deserving porcupine*

      The natural history museum that’s part of Drexel is very cool, esp if you like ancient underwater beasties, and the Franklin institute, similar natural science stuff. (My advice is heavily kiddo influenced, so take that as you will.)

    3. ALT*

      If you want to do bookish things there’s The Rosenbach it’s a museum and library of rare books and manuscripts. They have a great Melville Exhibition right now. There’s also the rare book room at The Free Library of Philadelphia main branch. And The Library Company.

    4. Coffee Bean*

      The Christmas Village is open!! It’s right by City Hall so you can def fit in Reading Terminal as well.

    5. Jaid*

      The Mutter Museum of Medical Oddities is practically down the street from 30th Street station!

      19 S 22nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Just leave the station at the Market St entrance and head east. At 22nd, make a right, go past the parking lot and boom, there’s the College of Physicians.

      Bonus, there’s a Trader Joe’s at 22nd and Market, so you can get some snacks.

    6. Sunflower*

      30th street station is kind of in the middle of nowhere but Philly is small so it’s quick to get to and from places. South street and Washington square west have some cool book/record stores and they also happen to be my favorite neighborhoods with cute cobblestone streets and architecture. Philadelphia magic gardens is down that way and features a bunch of moasic work- there are also walls of moasic work outside of the gardens close to that area of the city that you can see quickly and for free but you’ll need to search for them since i don’t think there’s a record of where they are located. Philly AIDS Thrift is a close by thrift store where you can find books, records and all kinds of other cool vintage stuff. You can also get a cheesesteak at Jim’s on south street(or literally any shop- they’re all good) if you’re looking to get a taste of philly. Get a beiler’s doughnut at reading terminal!

      I think you can ride the regional rail to suburban or Jefferson station for free if you take Amtrak that day. I could be wrong about this so check the septa website to confirm.

      Download the Citymapper app to find the best way to get there from 30th street- my guess is take the market Frankford line(MFL) (or regional rail if it’s free) to Jefferson station to get to reading terminal and then walk 8-ish blocks south to Washington square west. South street is a few blocks east and you can walk back to Jefferson station or the MFL at 8th street.

      FYI- the septa subway station is outside of Amtrak station(where you’d get the MFL) whereas the septa regional rail station is inside of it. Hope this isn’t too Confusing- have fun!

      1. Jaid*

        The EL is located at the corner of 30th and Market. Go down the stairs and boom, huge underground station. The EL itself has stairs in the middle of the station. There are trolleys that make more local stops, located on the sides of the station.

        1. Name Under Development*

          Don’t forget the Barnes. It is a pocket sized art museum reflecting one rich man’s eclectic tastes.

    7. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I might not have enough time on this trip for the museums, but I’m going to get to work mapping things out tomorrow.

      1. Jaid*

        FYI, the Mutter Museum is adjacent to Chestnut St, which has some decent restaurants, like El Rey, Spice End (Indian) and there’s a Pho place on 21st and Market.

        Can you tell I’m plugging hard for the Mutter? ;-)

        I hope you have a great time, whatever you end up doing!

  18. Anon Here*

    I’m moving today! The place is really nice. I’ll be able to garden in the spring, and take baths. The landlords say they’re giving me a washer and dryer, which I consider a holy grail of the urban apartment rental experience. I mean, if you rent in NYC and you’re a creative freelancer (as opposed to, say, an investment banker) and you live alone, having your own private washer and dryer is practically unheard of. It’s something many spend a lifetime aspiring to. I can’t wait to buy a nice pack of dryer sheets with just the right fragrance and . . . do laundry at home!

  19. Colette*

    It’s my annual “what books should I buy my nieces and nephew” question.

    Nephew is 9, a good reader, likes video games

    Niece 1 is 7, not as good a reader, likes to do and experience new things and is pretty confident

    Niece 2 is 5. She’s an only child and stated kindergarten in September. She’s taking skating lessons, is interested in medical topics and unicorns.

    (I think the 16 year olds and 18 year old are getting gift cards for books but am open to suggestions for them as well.)


    1. Earthwalker*

      Would the 7 year old like a small pack with field glasses and a Zim field guide or two? They’re mostly pictures. Would the little one get a kick out of one of those pocket first aid kits (the real thing)?

    2. fposte*

      Going backwards:

      5 year old:
      The good unicorn stuff lately is funny.
      Ame Dyckman’s You Don’t Want a Unicorn
      Bob Shea’s Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great
      Bethanie Murguia’s Do You Believe in Unicorns?
      If she is reading ahead of the curve, she might be ready for Rachel Hamilton’s Unicorn in New York

      7 year old:
      Jim Benton’s Catwad
      Drew Daywalt’s Monkey and Cake books (these are wild–they’re rollicking easy reads that explore pretty complex philosophical concepts)
      If she’s interested in natural history, Candlewick has a great nonfiction not-quite-series in picture book format; this year’s best example is Martin Jenkins’ Beware of the Crocodile
      And of course, Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books; also have a look at Mac Barnett

      9 year old:
      M.M. Vaughn’s Friendroid is a not-too-heavy story about robot friendship
      Kwame Mbela’s Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is an entry from the Rick Riordan stable of mythical adventure that draws on African and African-American folklore
      Thomas Taylor’s Malamander is an old-school Treasure Island-type adventure with a mythical sea beast

      16 and 18 is dependent on tastes and maturity, but it’s hard to resist Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation (zombies in a post-Civil War U.S. with African American zombie hunters), Alexander Thomas’ How We Became Wicked (mosquitoes spread a plague that makes people love to kill everybody), or Peadar O’Guilin’s The Call (fairies driven underground yank humans into their world for three minutes, and teen humans attend academies to learn to survive it) if they have any tolerance for horror (none of these are huge gorefests). For realism, Mariko Tamaki’s Laura Dean Keeps Breaking up with Me (graphic novel painfully accurate about bad teen relationships and toxic partners). Since they’re probably Canadian, Sarah Miller’s The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets, riveting nonfiction, may be of special interest.

      1. Koala dreams*

        For the teenagers, the murder robot series by Martha Wells is good. It’s SF about a social awkward robot.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      All the Dr. Suess books, a good illustrated collection of fairy tales, maybe the Narnia books for the 9-year-old, and get Treasure Island, the Hobbit, and Phantom Tollbooth on standby for when he can read at that level, and maybe Harry Potter?

      1. Colette*

        Thanks! I’ve definitely given an older sister Harry Potter, and maybe Narnia? But the others are good ones to keep in mind.

    4. Freezing unbaked pies*

      I’m a dinosaur myself, but for the nine-year-old take a look at From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. For the seven-year-old, if someone is still reading to her, try Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The five-year-old might like one of the illustrated DK books on human anatomy. I think the age-appropriate ones are the Visual Dictionary series.

      1. Colette*

        Thanks! I think I’ve already given that family the Narnia books and Harry Potter … although suddenly I’m not sure about Narnia.

        1. Colette*

          Well, this ended up in the wrong place! I may have given them the Mixed Up Files already, I’ll check the others out.

    5. Kirsten*

      My ten year old boy is loving anything by Rick Riordan, the Land of Stories series, and the Wings of Fire series. Another good series is The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

    6. Sparkly Librarian*

      Maybe the 7yo would do well with a magazine subscription. I was thinking American Girl (for the crafting and “try something new”) or Ranger Rick, but shorter blocks of text coupled with photo illustrations might help with her reading confidence.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Amercantile Girl also has really good stories, including one by Lauren Yep who I should have thought to mention. I first ran across his fantasy “The Dragon of the Lost Sea” and went looking for another in the series ended up with the historical fiction “Dragonwings”. And was hooked. My favorite may be “When the Circus Came to Town”, about a rural western kid meeting someone Chinese for the first time.

    7. Julia*

      I highly recommend the blog Everyday Reading. She has TONS of curated books lists by topic and age. She used to be a children’s librarian. I can 100% vouch for her taste as I read all of her adult book recommendations and they’ve been fantastic!

    8. Nancy*

      How about The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin for the 9 year old (actually, it was a trilogy when I came across it, but I think it’s grown since). Maybe the 7 year old would like the Worst Witch by Jill Murphy (it’s a series) or one of the Jack Stalwart books by Elizabeth Singer Hunt.

      Also, both my boys (7 and almost 5) love Ancient Greek/Roman myths!

    9. Jules the 3rd*

      My 12yo has been obsessed with Minecraft since he was 6 – there’s a ton of books related to it. Comics, programming guides, ‘Diary of an 8 Bit Warrior’ series. His friends with game enthusiasms are starting to get into manga – Legend of Zelda’s got multiple manga titles. Rick Riordan – kinda the new Hardy Boys, mediocre pulp adventure, I’d get one to see if he likes it before diving into them all. 9 / good reader is not too early for Harry Potter and The Hobbit.

      Ursula Vernon’s Hamster Princess is about right for the 7yo, and / or Danny Dragonbreath. They’re designed to be transitional from picture books to chapter books, they’re funny, her adult stuff wins Hugos.

      The 5yo – that’s a challenging one. Maybe see if her interest in unicorns also includes dragons, because there’s usually a lot of overlap, and there’s a lot more dragon options, like _How To Tame A Dragon_ series. I did grow up loving an anatomy book that had clear plastic overlays for each system, and I’ve seen some like that around, but you have to hunt, probably on-line or in the adult section. I think mine was a college textbook. General biology books might also be of interest, and there’s a lot about ecosystems out there.

      Larry Gonick’s books might be something you could explore. His ‘Cartoon Guide to X’ is factually / scientifically accurate as of their dates of writing, he’s funny, and the pictures kinda hide just how advanced the data is. My 12yos on his 3rd time through ‘Cartoon History of the Universe’, since his 6th grade social studies class has touched on Hinduism and Islam – my response was, ‘the teacher’s dumbing it down, re-read this for the real story.’ (though he says she is telling him Rama is an incarnation of Brahma, and I’m all like, ‘no, what? Vishnu! Vishnu’s the god who mucks around on earth with Rama and Krishna et al’ but maybe he misunderstood)

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ideas for the 7yo… both by Tui T. Sutherland: “Pet Trouble” series (“Mud Puddle Poodle” and “Runaway Tetriever” were favorites.)
      “Wings of Fire” series, first book ‘The Dragonet Prophecy”
      If she’s an advanced reader consider the Warriors series by Eric Hunter (and I’d forgotten that’s a pen name for a group including Sutherland!). First title “Into the Wild”. This one’s about a pet cat who escapes to join a feral colony with a full culture and magic and… my daughter & her friends loved it, male & female alike.

    11. Lilysparrow*

      Aaron Becker’s wordless trilogy (Journey, Quest and Return) are wonderful for kids 5-10. They are gorgeously illustrated fantasy adventures, graphic novels without words. The stories are surprisingly sophisticated but very easy to follow.

      Kids who like the adventure plot can go through them more quickly and stay engrossed – there’s plenty of “wow” factor. And kids who like to pore over detail will find a wealth of fascinating tidbits.

      It’s awesome to sit down with a child and have them “read” you the story from the pictures. These are my go-to-gift.

  20. Marzipan*

    A little update on my progress following my latest round of double-donor IVF… I had my 20 week scan this week, and all seemed well, so I’ve finally gone ahead and told people. (I did tell my dad at 16 weeks, and one person worked it out about a week and a half ago, but otherwise nobody knew a thing about it.) It’s really weird having people know, and I do have a baseline level of ‘now it will all go wrong and I’ll have to tell everyone’ worry going on, but people seem super pleased and supportive, which is really lovely.

    For whoever it was on here that wished me the world’s most boring pregnancy: so far that seems to be the case, so thanks!

    Thinking, as always, of anyone struggling.

  21. Perpetua*

    I’m due with our first baby in February, and it seems that my partner will need to travel for work for about half the month (one full week at home, then one workweek away) from January to April. We’re hoping we’ll be able to figure something out so that he can be here for the birth, but he’ll still be away for much of the newborn phase. We’re a bit sad that it turned out this way, as we were looking forward to doing it all together, but it was too good of an offer to pass, so we’ll make it work.

    Both sets of grandparents live relatively nearby (20-30 min drive, but we’re all in the same city), and they’re ready to help, but it will probably be my mom who will help out by staying over when he’s away and helping me with whatever is necessary. We have a loving, but complicated relationship, so I’m not sure how it will all turn out, but I do think she’ll do her best to be there for me and the baby.

    I guess I’m looking for advice from people in similar situations – what has helped, what has been important to you in order to make it through this intense time without full-time physical support from your partner?

    1. Marzipan*

      Given that both sets of grandparents live so nearby, do you feel you’ll want someone physically staying with you at times when your partner will be away; or would you be more comfortable having them come by to give you lots of help, but not stay all the time?

      1. Perpetua*

        My current plan is to have my mom sleep over (and stay for most of the day, but not necessarily 100% of the time if it doesn’t work for her or me) when he’s away, because I think I’ll feel better not being completely alone with a newborn, especially during the night.

    2. ForOneDollar*

      If I were you, especially with my first, I’d absolutely have my mom stay with me during the first month. Physically and emotionally, I could not have done it alone, particularly the nights. Other than that, I suggest prepping lots of meals in advance and investing in a good baby carrier.

    3. blackcat*

      I’d consider hiring a doula if there’s any chance he’d miss the birth. My doula was invaluable even though my partner was there. You can see if there’s a doula who would be there both for the birth and for drop in visits afterwards. There’s a website called doula match.

      1. Perpetua*

        Thank you, and yes, I’m definitely considering having a doula as a back-up option for the birth. I’m in Europe so the website unfortunately won’t help me, and doulas are a fairly new profession in my country, but they are slowly becoming more popular and I have one or two options I’m thinking of meeting and seeing how we click.

        1. Fikly*

          I don’t know if this is common in Europe, but there are also postpartum doulas, who help with nights and days with baby care and you care as well.

          And in general, I would set boundaries now. You may not know exactly what you’ll need, after you give birth, but you’ll probably have a good idea of what you don’t want, and you can always change your mind later. This way you can have boundary conversations when you’re not flooded with postpartum stress and emotions.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You say you have a loving but complicated relationship with your mother. Depending on what flavor of complicated you’re dealing with, it’s ok not to have her stay over. It’s ok to keep her as a short term helper. It’s ok to tell her that the instant she brings up x topic she’s kicked out. Whatever you need is ok.

      Your needs will come first. Anyone who won’t be able to recognize that and actually act that way will be a liability to you. And you are 1000% ok to enforce those needs, and to change the plan because someone has failed. Do not let anyone tell you differently.

      1. Perpetua*

        Thank you for the reminder, that is the attitude that I have towards this as well, but it’s good to keep it in mind.

        As for the flavor of complicated, it’s mostly her (historical, but the effects are still sometimes present) difficulty to recognize me as a separate and different person to her, paired with her tendency to offer unsolicited advice and not stop at “no, thank you” if we disagree (I’m fine with disagreement itself and with moving on from the issue, I just don’t want to continue fighting about the issue and it takes her a while to let go). A simple example would be this: when I mentioned that I plan on trying to use cloth diapers with the baby, her reaction was to tell me that it was absolutely too difficult for me and that I would fail and that it was too much work, etc. She even called me a couple of days later to tell me that she talked to my grandma and they BOTH concluded that I would not succeed. :P Whereas I didn’t ask for her approval or opinion in the first place, and I’ve calmly explained to her that I’ve done my research and I’m quite motivated to do it, but also ready to be flexible if necessary.

        I’ve done a lot of work around my emotional separation from her and making my boundaries quite clear, so it’s much better than it used to be, but I’m also aware that having a baby/grandchild is the “perfect” time for unsolicited advice and clashes around potential approaches. On the other hand, I do think she’ll try to really help me in these circumstances and I’ve heard of several examples of mothers and daughters getting along much better than might be expected in this type of situations, so I’m hoping that might be the case with us as well. If not, the setup will have to change. Thank you for the support!

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Give her a chance. If she can’t rise to the occasion, then she can live with the consequences. And cloth diapers can absolutely work, but if circumstances conspire against you, don’t sweat it. Baby, and you, will be fine.

    5. Anon time*

      My husband was around but has health problems that prevented him from helping with much infant care- he has a really bad back. He didn’t stay overnight at the the hospital with us because we were worried about his back going out. He also has no paternity leave, so literally only took a day or two off. It was hard, but we got through it.

      It was helpful for me to have a backup person to be with me in labor if he couldn’t- my mom came to be with me for part of my labor, but a friend or a doula would have also been good. My mom and husband were with me when the baby was born, but my first night after the baby was born was spent alone at the hospital. It was fine. The nurses are there to help. I would have preferred my husband being there, but it really was ok.

      Once the baby comes home, it’s really helpful to have either a stash of food or a way to get meals. My mom had made us a couple of weeks worth of frozen meals, and we also had a friend organize a meal train. You’re just so busy/tired, that that is really helpful. Stocking up on one handed snacks or meals (granola bars, frozen burritos) is also helpful, since when you’re holding the baby constantly, it’s hard to do things like cereal that require two hands.
      My mom didn’t stay over night, but came over every afternoon for a few hours to do things like do laundry and get the mail, and I found that helpful.

      I also found it helpful to stock up ahead of time on things like laundry detergent, pet food, and toilet paper. It makes sense, but I went through toilet paper much more quickly than normal because I was home all the time instead of being at work.

      You can do this! There will be hard parts but you can totally do this.

      1. Anon time*

        I also strongly recommend finding an online mom group for people you can message late at night. Reddit’s baby bumps group has sub groups by month of due date. I recommend joining one now, because they become more restricted eventually and stop accepting new members. But that was a huge lifeline. I messaged with those ladies at all hours. It was nice having contact with others going through the same thing.

        Here’s a link to accessing the monthly subreddits.

      2. Perpetua*

        Thank you, lots of practical advice here, especially about the toilet paper and stocking up.

        And that last part is what I keep repeating to myself – it might be hard at times and it might be different from what I originally imagined our first days with the baby will look like, but I/we can do it! :)

    6. The Meow*

      This might not be the suggestion you want so apologies in advance if I’m overstepping. But is it absolutely necessary for your partner to be away that time?

      I say this because my husband got called into work two days after the birth of our first child. I thought I would be totally ok but it turned out I really wasn’t. I didn’t even survive one day before calling him crying and asking him to come back. I was drowning in postpartum hormones, exhausted, and only wanted my husband to be there. Having supportive grandparents around was not enough of a substitute for my husband.

      He also regrets going back to work so soon after our son’s birth. He said he would never get that precious time back so wishes he stayed with us.

      1. Perpetua*

        That’s a perfectly logical question, so no worries about overstepping. And it’s the first question we asked ourselves as well, because we were aware from the beginning that this is quite unfortunate timing. Ultimately, we concluded that the opportunity was too good to pass up, even with the challenges it adds.

        He’s a freelance developer and he’s been working for equity at a startup he loves for almost this whole year (it’s a small team and he entered into the agreement fully aware of the risks, so it’s not a case of him being duped, if anyone worries about that) which means that he’s had little actual money coming in. The work engagement I’m talking about here is for a limited-time project that pays more than double his usual rate, so it would give us financial peace of mind for a while (especially with me being out of work for most of next year probably, as I’m a freelancer as well). In addition to that, the location he will be traveling to is a huge tech hub (unlike our city/country), providing potential opportunities for future engagements.

        What you’re describing IS one of my (and our) major worries, that he’ll miss out on a unique time in our first child’s life, and that I’ll really miss HIS support, because he’s the one I chose to have this baby with, not my mom or any of the other grandparents. Then again, if it turns out to be really unbearable, we can probably figure something out at that point. He’s been open with the project managers about expecting a baby in February and they said they’d make it work, so best case scenario, he might be able to skip one or two onsite weeks and leave for the first time when the baby is around a month old, which might be at least a bit easier than the very first days or weeks.

        Thank you for sharing, it’s valuable to hear from people who’ve had such an experience.

    7. Dancing Otter*

      My then-husband went back to work the afternoon I delivered. It was fine being on my own in the hospital afterwards, with hospital personnel around.

      Where I missed having help was being stuck at home with no way to get anything if I needed it. Nowadays, with delivery services so much more available, I think it would not be as frustrating. Your local equivalents of Peapod and Grub-Hub, drugstore.com and Amazon, etc., will be your new friends. Think of higher prices and delivery fees as the cost of hubby being away.

      Agreed with the other suggestions about food: prepare & stock up in advance. Also, learn to nap when baby does, even if the floor needs sweeping or whatever. Help is needed for housekeeping necessities while you bond with baby, not to step in for childcare – well, maybe watching baby while you rest. Grandmothers have a tendency to get that backwards.

      Can you afford, or suggest as a baby present, diaper service for the first few weeks? Cloth diapers have many advantages, but they are more labor-intensive. This is especially true initially, when babies have very liquid “output”, shall we say?

    8. Thankful for AAM*

      First, trust yourself!

      Second, don’t try to take care of the other people who are there to take care of you.

      Third, can you have the hard conversations ahead of time with your mom or anyone else who helps? Something like, “I don’t know what I will need and I don’t know how I will take having people here in my space helping me. What if I need to be by myself for a bit to go have a private cry or if someone gets upset that I want to try someone else’s advice, etc. How can we plan ahead so that this goes well for everyone?”

    9. Jules the 3rd*

      What helped most was letting go of expectations of how things ‘should’ work and doing what really worked. I had trouble breastfeeding, spent 4 mos doing all the tricks (fenugreek, etc), only really had enough for him to eat for about 2mo. Kept feeding, and pumping to keep up production, but started to supplement with bottles, he is fine.

      Everyone’s ‘should’ will be different, but when you’re stressed, look hard at anything you think ‘should’ be a certain way, and ask your doctor whether it could be different, if they have ideas on how.

      A schedule really helped too, though we were kinda loose, where I’d hand over baby for 4 hrs (8 to midnight) and sleep. Partner or mom would bring babe for breastfeed at 12, or would bottlefeed him, and then put him to sleep for me, and I’d get the next round. It was very important that I head to sleep right at 8, because I’d be up at around 3 or 4 for the morning feed.

      We did put him in a european-style box next to our bed for 6mo, so feeding was ‘roll over’ instead of ‘get up’, which also helped.

    10. My Brain Is Exploding*

      My experience is that Mom should know she is there to take care of YOU so that you can take care of the baby, and that you and your partner are making decisions about the baby’s care. So have a plan of sorts… Mom can cook, clean, care for baby while you nap, etc. I had kind of a difficult but loving relationship with my mom but when she came out after we had kids that was about the best we ever got along!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One thing to consider and discuss in advance– how to tell if one or both of you are getting punchy enough from lack of sleep to need alone time. Have a preapproved way to say you need it, and maybe a way to say the other seems tired enough that they need to go get a few hours of sleep.
      Because in retrospect my husband and I should have done that!

    12. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Anyone have recommendations for a soup that can sub for tomato in the classic tomato soup/grilled cheese pairing? I fondly remember this meal from childhood, but my tomato sensitivity has gotten worse as an adult and the soup is now a no-go for me. So, similar flavor profile, also very creamy, ideally some kind of vegetable content?

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Whoops, this was not supposed to be a reply. That’s what I get for posting on mobile, I guess! Sorry about that.

    13. Alexandra Lynch*

      Arranging for a lot of support from other sources.
      Having a baby is hard work. Especially since the last month or two are exhausting. I found out, thanks to giving one up for adoption, that it takes me about a week of lying around and sleeping a whole lot to get physically over giving birth. So don’t assume you’ll be your regular self; if you can get enough help that you could, in theory, have someone else doing baby care 24 hours at any point during that time, that’s good; you can always say, “I’m okay, hand me the baby.” The less help you have the more trouble you’ll have getting over the birth. This is my experience, at least, with a husband who was a trucker.

  22. Kendra*

    People are always yelling random crap to me on the street with such hate. I posted about this a while ago. It’s like not cat calling it’s just like yelling random shit at me. I moved to a different neighborhood and it doesn’t happen as often in this neighborhood, I think because young white women is a more normal demographic in this area, sadly. I hate to say that.

    Anyway, I was walking with my male friend downtown, and someone jumped up in front of us and yelled at me for being a f***ing lesbian. I mean I’m not, but like what the f does that matter. That’s not the first time someone has done that. Anyway, I told my friend that that happens a lot, and his response was like, “well he probably wasn’t talking to you. That’s too specific of a thing to say to someone to come up with that fast.” Lol

    1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Do you live in the city? When I used to live in the city, there were a bunch of men in my neighborhood who would either hang out on the sidewalks or their front porches and yell at women walking by. Usually a combination of sleazy cat calling and more hostile terms like “bitch” or “faggot”. It was extremely off putting, and a large reason why I decided to move outside the city. I feel bad because it is a traditionally poor neighborhood that is struggling from the effects of gentrification, and I want to be open-minded…but yeah, it’s probably better for everyone involved if the mere presence of women illicits such disturbed behavior.

    2. NaoNao*

      In my experience, even well meaning male friends don’t “get it” until they see it with their own eyes. I’ve told a few male friends about similar very upsetting experiences and they’ve brushed it off. Because it breaks the social contract (and is something they could never imagine doing) it seems “impossible”. But to us and most women/femme appearing people, it’s a major part of life.

      1. Kendra*

        Yeah like why so much hate? It’s literally not ever cat calling, not that that’s better anyway. It’s like: I HATE YOU AND I WANT YOU TO NOT BE HERE.

    3. Myrin*

      The guy jumped in front of you two and yelled right in your face – who else could he probably have been adressing here?! I’m sorry, I’m sure your friend is a lovely person but man, that’s some impressive mental gymnastics here. :/

      1. Kendra*

        I know lol. He chalked it up to him being like some crazy person just yelling random things. I mean, he is, but I think he was implying schizophrenia or something. There was no one else he could’ve been talking to.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That’s not necessarily far off the mark. I live in an urban neighborhood where there is a ton of drug use and a bunch of tent cities a few blocks away. (Plus lots of police plus lots of fancy stuff, like Michelin-recommended restaurants.) When people yell things on the street, I generally ignore it because it’s certainly not about me. I’ve only been frightened once, very early in the morning, but the dog didn’t mind so chances are it was just random screaming.

    4. Orange You Glad*

      I hate when that happens – it’s common AND awful!

      For me, I re-read this book whenever a particularly upsetting incident occurs and it makes me feel like I’m not alone: “50 Stories About Stopping Street Harassers” by Holly Kearl

      I have it downloaded on the Kindle app on my phone so I can reference it whenever. I also really like that it opened my mind to several different ways to respond (when it’s safe to do so) so I don’t feel as powerless.

      Because really, that’s what street harassment is: a power play.

      It’s not a compliment or a request for genuine connection. It’s one person asserting power over another person in a public setting and using the social dynamics to dominate the encounter.

      I’m sorry that happened to you and that your friend wasn’t supportive.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Because they feel powerless in other situations, and can use the surprise / physical differences to briefly feel that jolt of power.

          I felt it once, and it was heady – I was teased a lot as a kid. After I broke up with my 1st boyfriend (at…13ish?), telling him ‘I wasn’t ready to date’, one guy who’d consistently teased me came up later that week and asked if I was ready now. Almost 40 years later and I can still remember the blissed out feeling of my perfect comeback (Why? Are you interested?). He retreated, flushing, I felt great.

          I suspect there’s a dopamine hit in it, but in most situations / for most people it’s cancelled by shame / pain of hurting another person. That shame is greatly reduced if the ‘other person’ is dehumanized in someone’s brain, by being a stranger, or a different demographic. There’s other ways to reduce the shame correction, eg, ‘girls like cat calling’.

          1. Kendra*

            When I wasn’t catcalled s few years ago it made me mad. I’d act like I was going to tear the guy apart. One guy almost fell off his bike. I scare the sh*t out of people. I screamed at them and let them know I’m going to murder them with my words. They were just baby cowards.

            That’s why I don’t get why people do it. Like if that’s the reaction they get, where they’re essentially about to pee themselves, does that really empower themselves?

            Nowadays I don’t react at all. Actually — it’s worse because they flip the f*** out because I don’t react! That’s when I get the screaming. I started wearing headphones when I walk, even if there’s nothing playing, mostly to avoid the aftermath of people screaming in my ear lol.

            Anyway…. it felt different than cat calling though. I see the similarities but it FEELS a lot more like, “I hate you’re here. Please leave.” Like they can’t bear to have someone like me existing nearby. It doesn’t feel like intimidation. It feels like they’re sad and hurt.

          2. Kendra*

            It feels like… people don’t want me here. I don’t feel very welcome in general so I think it’s just the vibe of the whole city.

          3. Kendra*

            Honestly it doesn’t feel like any of that is true about feeling more powerful. Because what I was cat called, I mean I took that theory, and for a period I would just be happy and excited. One guy yelled at me about my butt and I was like oh my gosh I know thanks! He asked me if it was Pilates and I told him genetics. He seemed like he was very validated by that experience, but I felt strange to encourage that behavior. He was not disappointed that I didn’t get scared. I guess that’s why this just yelling random stuff at me feels so different, because it does feel very hate-fueled toward my existing at all.

    5. Boomerang Girl*

      I remember a couple of weird incidents. I am very tall and one time I was walking in a parking lot with a shorter friend. A guy driving by rolled down his window and yelled, “Amazon!” And continued driving. I wasn’t sure what the point of that was.

      Another time, a guy I knew slightly drove in front of me when I was at a crosswalk and stopped to say hello. The teenagers in car with him made obscene gestures at me and plastered a drawing of male genitalia against the window. I honestly don’t know if they quickly drew it for my benefit or if they were driving around with it. (My acquaintance was pissed with them when he realized what was happening.)

      Neither was as scary as what you experienced, but I think the principle was the same. Some jackass was trying to exert his power through intimidation and throwing off your equilibrium. Sorry you have had that experience so many times.

  23. gift giving*

    My cleaning lady of many years is retiring and I would like to give her a gift but I’m stumped. Even though she’s been working for me for a while, I am rarely home when she’s working. Any ideas?

    1. fposte*

      I usually prefer non-cash gifts, but in this case cash is absolutely what I’d do. A cash gift equaling several days of her work if you can, a nice note about how much you’ve appreciated her help and your warm wishes in retirement, and a small box of chocolates or something similar if you still want to give something tangible.

      1. Anon time*

        Seconding! Definitely money. I like the idea of a small box of chocolates or a candle in addition.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A thought about cash… if you’re feeling it’s impersonal, put the cash inside something else that would be a memento. A coin purse, a jewelry box, a covered candy dish, etc. Make sure she knows to open the inside thing too.

    3. Lcsa99*

      A gift card for a house cleaning service! Joking.

      I would probably agree with the others and give her cash. If you usually do a holiday bonus, maybe twice that? And a note about how much you’ve appreciated her work.

  24. Digley Doowap*

    I just watched “Broken” on Netflix and the episode that really got me was the final episode on how the planet is drowning in plastics, recycled plastics.

    Sure, the other episodes on vaping, counterfeit cosmetics from China and how IKEA is destroying the world’s lumber resources so we can buy cheap throw-away furniture are alarming, the last episode on plastic recycling is most disturbing, especially now because China has a national ban on taking the world’s plastic recycling and how Malaysia is now a plastic waste repository for the world.

    So much plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans that microplastics (from plastic
    decomposition) are now found on every Continent. These microscopic particles are in the food chain and the air and water, which means they are in you and me and every living creature. The negative health effects are only just now being realized.

    The petrochemical companies convinced us that it was a recycling problem, rather then the over production of disposable plastics. What suckers we are, thinking that recycling was the key to environmental health and that dutifully separating the recyclables from the trash every week was the right thing to do.

    Really the only right thing you can do is throw that plastic in the trash for disposal in the landfill and then stop buying disposable plastic containers in the first place. But can we?

    1. Rebecca*

      I’d like to see some changes in our packaging, and I think a lot of the excess plastic has been added to deter theft and tampering! I bought a Chapstick today, and it was packed in a large plastic enclosure. I remember when I was younger just buying one at the checkout like you would a roll of mints, no extra packaging. I’d like to be able to buy liquid soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, shampoo, conditioner, things like that, in bulk and reuse my containers. Even things like my prescription meds – would love to be able to reuse the same containers at the pharmacy, although I suspect there are probably at least a dozen laws that would prevent that. I suspect those sturdy laundry detergent jugs could last for years before needing to be recycled.

      I’d totally buy soda in glass bottles and take them back to the store. I truly think that plastic bottles of water need to be scaled way back, as in, I realize in emergencies it’s handy to have, but I use stainless steel water bottles and fill them from my own well water, no need to buy water, and I’ve used two of them for nearly 20 years now. I’ve gone to someone’s house for dinner, they have perfectly potable water from the tap and a fridge with water and ice, yet buy bottled water for convenience. Personally I think this is wasteful, but not my call to make.

      We need containers for things, and metal and glass can be used, but I’ve read that glass is more expensive to recycle than to make from scratch due to all the contaminants. For my part, I compost, recycle, and reuse as much as I can. I even save the paper bags I get at the feed mill when I buy apples or something that can easily just go into a reused bag so they don’t have to give me a new one.

      Part of this can be blamed on the jerks who tamper with food and meds, but part of the blame lays with us too, because we value convenience and ease of use over everything else.

      1. Grandma Mazur*

        I think your last point is particularly important, with the implication that we need to make people’s lives easier (eg, not need to work two jobs, worry about paying for healthcare, access to mental health resources, etc) so that people don’t feel they need the most convenient thing at the expense of the environment. If my regular supermarket can sell me cereals in my own refillable containers, great, but if I have to carry glass jars home on a bus that only goes every hour and I might miss it and have to walk? I’m probably going to choose the cardboard box… those might not be two completely compatible examples but what I’m getting at is that people will need to feel they have the physical energy and the brain space – the capacity – to tackle the environmental crisis in their own lives.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Also we’d have to stop people from sticking their grubby hands (and letting their children stick their extra-grubby hands) in bulk bins.

          1. Rebecca*

            EWWW, yes!! That’s what gives me pause about bulk items, people touching them with their grubby hands. Yuck. If it could be in a strictly controlled way, like you had to push a lever, and some of the stuff goes through a tube into my container, fine, but I don’t want bulk items that are open to the public. This is why I don’t get salad bar items at the grocery store.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Quite a few natural foods stores like Lucky’s Market have these. So did the local one in my old city.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m in one of the lucky areas with a good local soda company that does use glass bottles. Hosmer Mountain, since 1912. Yum.

    2. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I haven’t seen that show but now I am intrigued. I actually have become very interested in reducing waste in the past few months, and have been trying to both reduce my overall consumption/reduce consumption of plastic. However, very little can be done at the end-user level. I’m still doing research on this, but I’m taking a lot of my cues from local environmental activists who are more informed on what would make a better impact. This includes lobbying larger buyers of plastics (like retailers and distributors) to choose paper and alternative packaging, and eventually regulating plastic production overall (which will be difficult, but effective.)

      1. Square Root Of Minus One*

        Indeed… plastic is everywhere, and honestly, where I live, to buy glass bottles or bulk on a regular basis, or even furniture away from Ikea, you need to be much wealthier than most.
        It’s also in textile, for that matter. A LOT of it. 75% of all textile produced is polyester alone… and there is no good answer on that one. We need clothes, a lot of cotton production is also questionable, wool as well given there is no guarantee it’s produced ethically… and good luck finding underwear with natural fibers.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      IKEA is one of those Swedish paradoxes that pop up every now and then. Sure they are all about sustainable design (like the rest of the country) but not at THAT scale.

      In Sweden, however, they have recycling dialed to a level that is insane. In home your trash is sorted into (at least in partner’s county) eight different categories, with food waste separate. Paper, glass, different plastics (wrapping, containers, etc), batteries, etc. There is also a PET scheme where you pay a deposit on your plastic bottles and cans and get it back when you return them to the store. But the dump… man the dump is that writ large for even more categories of waste like plant and lawn clippings, lumber from home repairs, ceramics, and on and on, everything tidy and contained in separate ‘pens’. The social conditioning and stigmas mean that everyone does their part (maybe with a bit of grumbling, but they do it) and the government provides a clean and funded service. As a result you don’t see junk on the side of roadways, or in the water, or anywhere else it shouldn’t be and as much is recycled as possible.

      But, that is easy to do with a population of 9 million, doing that in a much larger country without a long, socially-ingrained environmental consciousness just isn’t going to happen. I do think there are ways to start easing people into more consideration of packaging, like with bulk options or PET schemes, but to get to a level that may be needed now is going to take generations of educating and government investment/support and I’m not sure a lot of countries are up to that task.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Thanks for this interesting read.
        Our recycling is privately owned here.
        We don’t do recycling stations very well. I see that now. The bins are close together and if a wind comes along the plastic flies into the newspaper etc.

        The signs are old and refer to an older system that we had. People put ads in with the newspapers which is okay here, but then they just blend everything else also. This is because it’s too confusing with the old out of date signs.
        The recycling area used to have a baby sitter. Because, you know, adults can’t get it right. Now there is less and less staff so the customers do whatever.
        My county does not take electronics anymore and we have to drive 15 miles to the next station that will. Of course, this means people are back to having their own dumps. I diligently brought an old sewing machine over and drove an hour and a half all total. I am sure my car added all the pollution that I was trying to prevent.
        People watch the municipalities collect waste. They throw the recycling right in on top of the trash, same truck. Municipalities are bad, private collectors are worse. If you quit doing business with Big Garbage Company, it takes them years to come around and collect their cans. One friend had their cans for six years after quitting the service. I am not sure how they finally got rid of the cans.

        So far the plan seems to be increase the costs to throw things away. A 30 gallon bag of garbage costs just under $5 to get rid of. This has created a number of alternative solutions: build your own private dump; burn it; leave it along the side of the road; dump it on other people’s land at night; and sneak things in with recycling because no one is watching the bins at the center.
        I haven’t even started on the landlord stories. Short version, landlords pretty much ignore recycling services for their tenants entirely. It all goes in one bin.
        It’s gonna be a long road.

        1. KR*

          Your last point was such an issue for me where I used to live. The town had recycling pickup, but the apartment complex wouldn’t offer recycling. I called up the town and asked, “Can I pay a fee and get a dump permit so I can recycle?” No, I can’t do that and the dump is a closed dump so no drop offs allowed. Looking back, I should have gone to city council and asked if they would consider such a program.

          I think more people would recycle if it was easily available for them. Now where we live, we have recycling but the company is extremely picky. If your bin is overflowing (even with recyclable material like cardboard which frequently doesn’t fit all the way in the bin) they’ll dump the whole thing in the trash. I’ve watched them do it.
          I try to buy stuff with less packaging & not buy online as much but sometimes you just can’t find what you need in stores anymore. They don’t sell as much variety anymore because of online options. At a certain point you think, well if everyone else I doing it and the UPS truck is going to make the route anyway, why am I antagonizing over this.

          It’s so depressing. I want to live more sustainably but the right societal/infrastructure systems aren’t set up so I can’t reduce the most of my waste/pollution. Can’t buy certain things local that I should because the local option doesn’t exist or buying local would add more emissions because I’d have to drive everywhere instead of going to the grocery store. Can’t compost as I’m in a rental and can’t afford a house. Is it better to buy a hybrid now or drive my fuel sipping Civic until it dies? Who knows.

          1. KR*

            Note I work in renewable energy generation and I’m so fortunate to be able to do that. It funnels a lot of my environmental anxiety. But I still panic. We’re getting there on Renewable energy but it’s too little too late and considering the state of the US government regarding environmental policy … I worry.

          2. Digley Doowap*

            Why bother recycling if the plastic is ending up in the food chain and the oceans?

            Currently Malaysia is the only country taking in recyclables for the world and most of what they get is ending up being burned or in the ocean.

    4. KL*

      I’ve thought about this lately too! To change this would require the entire world changes the way it produces and consumes products, on such a scale that all governments would have to be involved with strict enforcement, and all nations working together. The sheer amount of organization, cooperation, and effort this would take is mind-boggling and rather sickening to even think about attempting. This… Just isn’t going to happen, especially when people are making big money with the way things are currently.

      I don’t believe we as consumers can change anything. Even if I went out of my way to live sustainably, it wouldn’t make a difference, especially considering most of the world’s population are in countries without the infrastructure. The only way I can see major change happening is when people are literally dropping dead in the self-inflicted synthetic plague that will wipe out a significant chunk of the world’s population. I’ll be dead long before then.

      That or the zombie apocalypse. Selling stuff is the last thing people in that scenario would be thinking about.

    5. Ann O.*

      This is hard because I think most of the changes that need to happen to prevent environmental apocalyptic scenarios need to happen above the level of consumer choices. But we’re so focused on consumer choices that we’re not building the networks to advocate.

      I’m trying to walk a balance between doing what I can and not taking on more than is in my power. So I’m avoiding single-use plastics when I can and looking for more reusable options, but I’m also not focusing too much on it. Likewise, I try to reduce my energy consumption, but I’m not making myself miserable by living in uncomfortably hot or uncomfortably cold. I’m mindful of fast fashion, but I don’t wear clothes that are falling apart.

      I think ultimately, we need technological solutions. Humans are too flawed, IMHO. Technology is the wild card that no one can truly predict.

    6. Lora*

      Short answer: no.

      All the things we need to do, such as the serious recycling a la Scandinavian countries and Singapore, switching to reusable containers, etc, we needed to start about 40+ years ago. And if it’s too hard for people working multiple jobs for crap money, relying on a very decayed public transportation system, well, how difficult do you reckon it will be for millions of displaced refugees? Whether due to a war for oil, war for water or regular gangster stuff like El Salvador, or even just economic refugees moving to countries that have a better quality of life, it will be extremely difficult to get anyone with the time and effort to spare for the work that needs to be done. When wages were effectively higher (relative to cost of living and inflation) more people had the capacity for doing this work. That’s not the case anymore.

      Technology…my fellow internet strangers, I work in technology. I did some time in the biofuels sector. Most of my colleagues from that time are now either in Big Pharma, grant writing/reviewing for the government, at some other start-up or in Big Energy/Oil. There is no money, not even a living wage, in developing these technologies. The people I know who stuck with it, at various other start-ups, have a partner who brings home the serious paycheck. Your other option is taking a vow of poverty and never being able to afford the reusable containers and stuff you know you should be doing. If you have student loans to pay off, forget it. Best case scenario for a startup trying to do green energy is, a very liberal government forces you to be the lowest bidder, which means you make just a smidgen above cost. Meanwhile you get to watch your friends in other industries go on multiple international vacations working for Raytheon or Boeing. Which would you choose? There’s just zero incentive for developing green technology when you can spend investors’ money on “the next (app of choice)”, fail, and get a six figure job in Silicon valley instead.

      I recycle and compost. I live in an affluent community that is extremely diligent about having staff help with the recycling sorting and making sure people dispose of things properly. We don’t ship out our landfill trash, it’s used within the state to shore up eroding coastline and whatnot. Food waste from local grocery stores and dairy cattle manure is put into methane digesters to produce electricity that goes back on the grid. I have a giant bundle of reusable tote bags and I pack lunches and drinks in reusable containers. I have a stupidly fuel efficient car and work from home as much as I can. Most of my clothes are natural fiber and if they’re too ragged for thrift store donation they get made into dustrags and patchwork quilts. Every lightbulb in my house is LED and the water heater is a fancy inline energy efficient thing; a geothermal heat pump is on the list of upgrades for the house. I’m doing what I can, with lots of resources all considered…and I still think we’re hosed. Because people are organisms on this Earth like any other.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Recycling was a new idea in Sweden 30 years ago. If you start now, maybe it will be mainstream where you live in 30 years time?

    7. Elizabeth West*

      They can make compostable plastic, but god forbid we should spend a little more money to keep from trashing the planet beyond livability. :P

      I do what I can to cut down on the amount I use and toss. I turn down plastic cutlery and keep straws and a spork in my purse. I bring my own bags to the store. I use dishes instead of buying paper plates (that was a tough one to stop). I buy vintage Tupperware and store food in that, and I’ve almost completely phased out plastic bags. My very eco-conscious friend made me some beeswax wraps. I love them and would like more.

      At least here, there is recycling; in my old city, there wasn’t. Other than putting people in charge who can and will do something about it, there’s not much else I can do.

  25. puffle*

    Hello all, I’m hoping for some book recommendations. I’ve just finished re-reading Naomi Novik’s amazing Temeraire series and I’m looking for something similar to read, specifically something fantasy, sci-fi or historical

    I prefer my fiction to be overall fairly light-hearted, I’m not fond of dark and grim or dystopian

    I’ve also fairly recently read and really enjoyed The Goblin Emperor, the Culture series and Swordheart if that helps

    Thank you!

    1. Ann Onny Muss*

      Have you read Clockwork Boys and The Wonder Engine? Same author and universe as Swordheart. (I’m on tenterhooks for the next book in the Swordheart trilogy to come out. Come on, Ursula–at least give us a release date!) Also, if you haven’t read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, that’s probably up your literary alley.

    2. Lost in the Woods*

      I just finished the third book in Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series (series is maybe the wrong word, they’re loosely connected stories set in the same universe). They were a breath of fresh air in sci-fi for me.

      1. foxinabox*

        If you like Temeraire and Goblin Emperor, PLEASE read Sorcerer to the Crown and its sequel by Zen Cho. They’re regency fantasy with a big POC cast and a really cool magic system, plus while the main action in both takes place in England there’s also a lot based in Malaysia (the author’s two backgrounds) and they’re fun, plotty, with great characters and completely light on their feet.

    3. Laburnum*

      I LOVED the Temeraire series (and had totally not expected to when I picked up the first book).
      I suggest: The Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen (first book is The Queen of the Tearling) — there are a few dark moments, but some of the magic here is unexpected and the plot has some interesting twists.

      The Tuesday Next books by Jasper Fforde are fun — first one is The Eyre Affair. Not historical,but lighter fantasy.
      same with Libriomancer by Jim Hines

    4. Claire (Scotland)*

      Seconding the recs for Ursula Verson’s other books, Terry Pratchett and the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers.

      I also strongly recommend Martha Wells. The Murderbot novellas are fab sci-fi and there’s a full novel coming next year. And I adore her Lady Astronaut series (alternate history sci-fi).

      If you like fantasy, Seanan McGuire is one of my absolute favourites. Her October Daye series is urban fantasy as is her Incryptid series (which is a bit lighter in tone). There’s also her series of portal fantasies, the Wayward Children novellas.

      1. Pam*

        The Lady Astronaut series is by Mary Robinette Kowal, who also has a series of Regency magic books, starting with Shades of Milk and Honey.

        1. Claire (Scotland)*

          Whoops, yes, thanks, looks like part of my post got deleted there in the middle when I was editing. Thanks for spotting! I was trying to rec the Glamourist Histories as well and lost the first part of the MKR stuff somehow.

    5. Jackalope*

      If you are okay with romance in your fantasy, I’ve enjoyed a lot of Sharon Shinn’s books. Her elemental blessings series and the series that started with Mystic and Rider are my favorites and they are light, with enough tension to make you interested but not super dark or grim. The one thing to know is that you really want to read them in order but the book numbers aren’t on the outside of the books. I ended up looking up the order on the author’s website. (Her shapeshifter series was also good but not as strong in my opinion.)

      Have you read Diana Wynne Jones? Her stuff is often fairly whimsical but good reading. A lot of it is considered Young Adult but I still enjoy it. My favorite is Robin McKinley who is also generally YA but I enjoy it a lot.

      I’m also a big fan of Elizabeth Moon’s Paksennarrion series. Read them in order; she has the original series written a few decades ago and then a follow-up series finished in 2014. Lois McMaster Bujold has some good stuff; I like The Curse of Chalion series and The Sharing Knife is also good and fairly light-hearted. Her sci-fi is good too but I’m less of a sci-fi fan so they leave me a bit cold.

      Anyway, hope that gives you some ideas and (if you’ve already read any of the above authors) an idea of what I like so you know whether it will mesh with yours.

      1. Fikly*

        Oh, man, Elizabeth Moon! I love her!

        I adore Bujold, but am the opposite – I love her Sci-Fi, the fantasy left me cold.

        Also, for Pratchett, Hogfather is seasonally appropriate right now, wherein Death acts as a last minute substitute for a Father Christmas equivalent.

    6. acmx*

      I actually couldn’t finish His Majesty’s Dragon but these are lighter fantasy:

      Marie Brennan’s Memoir’s of Lady Trent series? Starts with A Natural History of Dragons. It’s Victorian-esque but light on dragon lore.

      Heartstone series by Elle Katherine White. First book is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. (I’ve never read Jane Austen so can’t comment on how accurate/similar it is).

      The Tuesday Next books by Jasper Fforde – second this.

      Naomi Novik’s other books?

      1. CAA*

        Oh Thursday Next, I’d forgotten that series, and I did love it when it came out! The first one is “The Eyre Affair”.

    7. CAA*

      I loved Temeraire, though I don’t read a ton in that genre. My DH also liked it very much, and it’s one of the few series that we share. If you haven’t read Novik’s fairy tale books, “Uprooted” and “Spinning Silver”, do try those.

      If you like steampunk mixed into a light-weight fantasy, Gail Carriger’s books are a lot of fun. I’ve also enjoyed Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series quite a lot.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      Have you tried the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman? Parallel worlds, dragons, elves, steampunk… Four books so far, with The Invisible Library being the first. I have them as audiobooks from Audible.
      Also, a little younger targeted (The main characters are teen-agers, but their attitudes seem pretty grown-up for 16 or 17.), but with an original sort of plot, is the Raven series by Maggie Stiefvater. There’s a quest; there’s a villain; there’s a couple of varieties of magic; there’s a subplot concerning class distinction and privilege; it’s not just another version of the same old plot lines. Start with The Raven Boys.

    9. Loopy*

      HIGHLY recommend V.E. Schwab’s series a darker shade of magic series! Also, I’m weirdly excited this has brought out tons of people with similar book tastes, I don’t have many in real life and I’m seeing so many other books I love being mentioned! :)

    10. Grace*

      Temeraire was fantastic! Other Napoleonic-era fantasy is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell; fewer dragons, more magicians.

      Seconding all of Discworld – the Tiffany Aching books are YA-style, Hogfather is seasonally appropriate, Guards! Guards! has dragons. They’re all good starting points. Also seconding Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer Chronicles.

      Diana Wynne Jones’ stuff is technically for children, but come on – Howl’s Moving Castle is a must-read, and very different to the Ghibli film. Francis Hardinge’s stuff is also technically children/YA, but they’re damn good; I’m a big fan of The Lie Tree, which is set in the Victorian period.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      I can second most of these.

      Also – Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonalds Mageworlds series, for great space opera with a cast of delightful characters.

      Jodi Taylor’s St Mary’s series is great fun – disaster prone time travelling historians. It reads as quite light, in spite of the dire things that keep happening to the characters.

      Ben Aaranovich for urban fantasy – police procedural with magic set in modern London.

      I recently read and loved Theodora Goss’s Athena Club trilogy. Victorian London, and the main characters are the daughters/experiemental subjects of famous literary mad scientists (Mary Jekyll, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, etc).

      Anything by Tanya Huff. She’s written military sci-fi, straight up fantasy, steam punk, and urban fantasy. The Blood Books are particularly good (urban fantasy with vampires), as is the straight fantasy Quarters series.

    12. Anono-me*

      I liked the Temeraire series at first, but as it progressed, it seemed to get darker. Eventually it became too heavy for me.
      That being said; Here are three fantasy authors that I like:

      ‘A Discovery of Witches’ by Deborah Harkness is a $1.99 ebook right now.

      Patricia Briggs has the Mercedes Briggs series. Right now #7 ‘Frost Burned’ is a $1.99 ebook right now.

      Ilona Andrews has several series. Her blog says the first Kate Andrews ‘Moon Called’ will be $1.99 12/1/19-12/15/19. (It is post dystopia but not as dark as most.)

      I also like Lois Mcmasters Bjold, Tanya Huff, Seanan McGuire and Sharon Shinn.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I wonder if we could talk Alison into setting up a shared reading list file somewhere, because what a list it would be!
      I’ll throw three to you that might hit your criteria. New to me fantasy fiction — The Emperor’s Edge series by Lindsay Buroker. Classic fantasy from the genre’s early days — Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser, by Fritz Lieber. Dragon magic in a variant modern world (witty, racy, and occasionally campy) — The Queen’s Wings series, by Jamie K. Schmidt.

    14. KL*

      Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Six very flawed people are commissioned to break a scientist out of prison, fantasy style.

      Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Also fantasy, con-artist priest shenanigans gone horribly wrong.

      1. Lives in a shoe*

        Seconding the Bardugo books! Just the Crow series though, I wasn’t a huge fan of some of her other books.

    15. Ariaflame*

      The Liaden series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The first one Agent of Change and another fairly good jumping in point ‘Fledgling’ are on the Baen Free Library so you can try and see if it’s your cup of tea. Space Opera with good characters, some cats and occasional sentient turtles. Some interesting clash of cultures stuff.

      Also second the other recommendations of Pratchett’s Discworld and Bujold. Maybe the Rivers of London series by Aaronovich?

    16. Jen Erik*

      Lots of good suggestions – I’m looking forward to trying the ones I haven’t read.

      Adding in Zen Cho’s ‘Sorcerer to the Crown’ (Regency with bonus magicians) , and for Regency-esque dragons – genuinely all the major characters in the book are dragons – Jo Walton’s ‘Tooth and Claw’. If you haven’t read Bujold, and don’t mind reading series out of order, ‘A Civil Campaign’ is basically a sci-fi Regency Romance, and is a bit brilliant.
      I’m currently rereading Rosemary Kirstein’s ‘Steerswoman’ books which are not light-hearted per se, but are good-natured.
      ‘To say nothing of the dog’ by Connie Willis if you happen not to have read it – time travel romp with a nod to Jerome K . Jerome , and perhaps Megan Whalen Turner’s book ‘The Thief’ – don’t read reviews for that one, because you’ll fall over a spoiler for sure.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The Connie Willis you mention is one of my favorites. She’s so flipping versatile…that series spins from an inspirational war story to a tragedy to screwball comedy.
        Do start with the novella: “Firewatch” lays out a lot of ground rules for the universe. (And it’s a must-read for any science fiction fan visiting London.) I think “Doomsday Book” is optional to understanding the series, but others disagree with me.

    17. puffle*

      Thank you so much for all the fantastic recommendations, this will keep me busy for a long time! Really excited to check out all these books

  26. Quake Johnson*

    Does anyone have any experience with friends or family getting sucked into pyramid schemes? Did you do anything about it? Say anything to them? Say nothing and hope they figure it out quickly?

    1. Fikly*

      It’s nearly impossible to do anything to stop them/convince them otherwise unless you have power of attorney, sadly. People will believe what they want to believe, and they believe in pyramid schemes because they give them hope.

    2. eightytea*

      I would suggest joining the group “Sounds like MLM but ok” on Facebook. They have a lot of great resources for this sort of thing!

    3. WS*

      Sort of! I managed to convince my aunt that she shouldn’t invest more than her current income in a pet product MLM because what if something happened further up the supply chain, like a factory burned down? It wouldn’t be anyone’s fault, but you still would need that money to live on. (My parents had tried to convince her not to put any money into it, but by then they had all become her best friends and would never lie to her, so she was starting to drop out of contact with my parents because of this MLM cult.)

      She did not take out a loan or take more out of her (nearly paid off) mortgage as the MLM people had suggested, and while she now has no savings, she still has retirement money and never missed a mortgage payment. Unfortunately, she still seems to think that the next one will work out, but at least we don’t have to worry that she’ll lose her home.

    4. Lemonish*

      I highly recommend listening the podcast “The Dream” (and maybe then also recommending that they listen to it).

      “The Dream” does a great job outlining how MLMs convince people and keep them hooked.

  27. walrusandsonscrochet*

    *Beams the crafting signal into the sky* Anyone here who has started a small crafting business on the side? I’ve been making amigurumi (crocheted toys and decorations) to sell at a small local craft fair, and this year I’ve decided to start doing more fairs and actually try to make my social media not suck, although it’s not my forte. It’s really just for fun, not something I’m trying to make real money from.

    Anyone have tips to share about craft fairs, navigating the terrain of social media, or general tips about starting a low-key business? I might eventually start selling online too, but I’m keeping it small for the moment. My instagram handle is the same as my username here if you’d like to see what kind of stuff I’m making, but I just started it last week, so it’s still pretty small.

    1. Bob*

      I’m not at all crafty but I had coffee this morning with a friend after reading your post. She makes jewellery and sells it at craft fairs so I asked her advice.

      She likes to take a long a friend when she has a stall at craft fairs. In the beginning this was more for emotional support and, when the fair was quiet, it also gave her the chance to go and have a chat with other stall holders. She picked up tips from them (like which craft fairs are the best for her sort of jewellery) and that built a sense of community. As things got busier for her business she she found the travel time (sharing a car with a friend) to/from different fairs to be a rare opportunity to socialise!

      As for social media: in your position I’d identify my most social media-savvy friend and buy them a coffee in exchange for all the tips.

      You could also look for common themes among your favourite instagram sites. Obviously you’ll want to stay true to your own aesthetic but maybe there will be common themes on framing/lighting/colours etc and/or common hashtags which will get people on to your site.

      I hope this helps! Good luck in your endeavours from a random internet stranger.

    2. HBJ*

      You probably should look into your city, county, borough, state laws just to be familiar with what you might need there. A lot of times, craft fair/occasional businesses like that are excluded from sales tax and business license requirements, but it’s good to check just in case.

  28. Myrin*

    Little Thing of the Week:

    The light above my train stations sole ticket machine has been busted for months now. It wasn’t that noticeable when it was still light out even as early as I get there to get to work (quarter to or quarter past six, depending on which day it is) but it’s been abominable for the last few weeks (the machine is in a little nook halfway inside the station building and around the corner from the actual rail track so the light from there doesn’t reach it in any way, shape, or form; seeing if you’ve got the right amount of money at hand was a catastrophe).
    I kept being annoyed by it and then promptly forgetting as soon as I moved on from the machine and I also heard others grumble about it but apparently no one ever thought of doing anything about it.

    So I took matters into my own hands and told a conductress making her rounds about it and asked if there’s anyone I can call to alert them to this. And she immediately got out her little ticket-scanny-machine-thingy and typed something and said no, she’ll be letting the appropriate people know about this posthaste. That was on Tuesday. This morning, when I arrived at the station, the ticket machine was basked in light again in the exact same way it used to be.

    Be the change you want to see in the world, people!

    1. Colette*

      Good for you! As the kind of crank who calls the city to let them know stop light bulbs are burnt out, I know how satisfying it is to see the problem that’s been bugging you for weeks finally get resolved!

      1. Ariaflame*

        So many of these problems seem to have SEP fields around them (Someone Else’s Problem) and it really takes so little to bring them to the attention of someone who can do something about it. I just got a whole heap of lights replaced at work by remembering to contact the facilities people.

  29. Deserving porcupine*

    My family really wants to get a dog for/around Christmas, and I do too, but we’re worried about the time constraints of a new pet. I think I’ve convinced them out of a puppy, but even if we adopt a 1-2 year old, what kind of time ought we to put in before we all go off to full time work and school? We’ll be home for a week and a half over the holidays, but then we have jobs/ school that will keep us away from 8-5:30 every day, and I don’t want to adopt a pet just to abandon them before they’re comfortable in the house. Advice?

    1. ThatGirl*

      When we adopted our adult dog, the first couple days I worked from home half days to make sure he was adjusting, then my husband was off for a few days, just to get a routine down. I think as long as you establish a routine pretty quickly for eating, walks, etc 10 days or so should be fine. You may want to consider a crate or a closed off area too if the dog has any adjustment anxiety.

    2. Alice*

      I’ve adopted three dogs past puppyhood stage. Two had some kind of issue – not huge problems, but things to work around.
      One had been found by the side of the highway. For the rest of his life, he chased pickup trucks. Perfect recall otherwise, but that limited our off-leash excursions.
      Another was born in a shelter and lived in the shelter for a year before we adopted her (from a different shelter; she had been shipped to our region). They said she was house-trained; she wasn’t. Even more challenging long-term, she hadn’t been well socialized during that year. We did six months of group training classes at the big local animal hospital, but she’s still pretty reactive with big dogs, and has terrible recall. We can mostly work around these issues but I preferred having better trained dogs.
      I’m not saying not to adopt an older dog! But in my experience there are some puppyhood experiences (or lack of experiences) that you can’t really make up for later.

    3. Spoons please*

      An older dog can hang out for the day, but please talk about the commitment of playing and exercising and training the dog every day, after work/school. It may be easier if you can distribute the evenings among you, but the reality of not going to the gym, not having time to run errands after work, etc catches many people off guard. The dog doesn’t care if it’s raining or cold or if you had a rough day- down time needs to come second to taking care of the dog.

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      Even a 1-2 year old is still mentally a puppy and may require potty training, exercise, stimulation. Breed and dog (they are all different!) dependent though. Look into doggy day care, pet walkers, etc. Are you crate training? We have an old dog who is fine alone in the house but we also foster dogs and crate train them (all of the foster dogs have enjoyed their little den and it’s a good place where they get treats, it’s not for punishment or isolation).

      Enjoy the new family member!

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I went to work a few days after we adopted our bud, who was 2 1/2 at the time. We had a walker who walked our neighbor’s dog, and that was a godsend. We established a routine very early on: I did the morning walk, walker came in the afternoon, whoever got home first took him out right away. He was also crated for the first few months– he came crate-trained and he loved his crate– until we figured out we could trust him. A few months later we started once a week doggy daycare.

      The most important thing was to pay extra close attention in those first few days. They were tough and tiring, but we learned his habits pretty quickly and figured out what we needed to work on. He’s 9 now and sometimes he’s a jerk but he’s the best buddy.

    6. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      First, find a pet sitter or doggy day care to walk dog in the afternoon. (Or have someone come home on the lunch break?) I always hesitate when people say they want a pet for Christmas/holidays. House is hectic, people go in and out and it’s a lot of stress. A one-two year old dog is prime full pf energy, so exercise in the AM, lunch, and PM. Have everything set up before dog gets home and make sure you have researched the breed(s). A Border Collie or Belgian Malinois would be absolutely frustrated at your schedule without oodles of exercise, play time, and puzzles for home , Good luck!

    7. Loopy*

      I adopted a two year old dog and went back to work fairly soon but someone else was in the house while I was away. My dog had a LOT of energy even at 2 and stayed pretty energetic for years. Fortunately I could commit time to long walks after work and on weekends. Definitely look into differing energy levels of breeds.

      I usually try not to keep the dog inside more than 9 hours as a maximum so I’d seriously consider a dog walker or doggy daycare.

      Keep in mind you wont be as flexible with after work plans/errands if you don’t have a dog walker come.That still is an obstacle for me and I have had my dog for going on 8 years now. If dog is alone from 8-5:30 you probably need someone to be going straight home to walk if you don’t have a regular dog walker. That being said, I’ve happily been a dog owner and would never go back, despite the time commitment. Often the exercise with dog can be a fun outing somewhere or a wonderful way to get fresh air and sun! I definitely hope I didn’t make it sound like too much of a burden! I love my walks!

    8. Lucette Kensack*

      That should be plenty of time to get the pup settled. You’ll want to start giving her time alone in the house, in increasing amounts, before you go for the full day.

      8 – 5:30 is likely to be too long to be left alone without a bathroom break for most dogs, so you’ll need to hire a dog walker or arrange for someone to stop home over lunch to, at a minimum, let the dog do her business.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Consider climate & your intended toilet trsining. If you want to train him to use one spot in the yard for pee&poo, someone is going to have to stay out there with him every time until he goes where you want before you go for a walk. Not a great cold-weather activity.
      But delightf for not stepping in it lster.

    10. Managing to get by*

      Adopting a dog that is at least a year old is a much better idea than a puppy if you’re not able to be home with him/her for at least the first several months. A good rule of thumb is a dog can “hold it” for one hour per month of age, up to about a year old, then they can hold it for 10-12 hours in a row until they become senior and the time period decreases.

      While you are home around the holidays, be sure to leave the dog along for shorter periods of time before you go back to work, so they get used to you leaving and returning.

      A dog under 2-3 years of age will still be a bit of a chewer. Be sure to have a clear place you can leave them when you go to work, without things that they could get in trouble by destroying. Also be sure they have plenty of chew toys as chewing helps calm anxiety, even for older dogs.

      Luckily I get to work from home 2-3 days per week. My dogs stay in my mudroom/laundry room on the days I have to go to the office, and I’m gone about 9 hours on average. I’ve dog-proofed it and they have plenty of chew toys, comfy beds and access to water. If I have a particularly long day I have a couple of friends who can stop by and let them out mid-day. Even so, one of my older dogs will pee in the corner on occasion. It’s truly an accident, and I just clean it up without making a big deal out of it. It’s part of having dogs and working full time.

      Don’t forget the dog will need some activity in the morning, at least a 15-20 min walk, as well as after work. I have small acreage with horses and mine follow me around for 20 mins while I do horse chores then we throw the ball for 10 mins or so before going back in the house for breakfast.

  30. Freezing unbaked pies*

    Thank you all so much for your advice last week about making a cherry pie and freezing it. The technique worked perfectly – I filled and covered the pie and crimped the edges, froze it very well-wrapped, and baked it on the bottom rack of a 425° oven directly from the freezer. All you have to do before baking is glaze the top and cut vent holes. It came out crisp and fresh-tasting.

    Hope you all had a great holiday, and thanks again for your help last week.

  31. Friendless (but not totally)*

    I’ve never been good with making friends, or at least close friends. I’ve been struggling with bullying in my teens and depression later in life, I’m an only child and I don’t relate well to people. Which is okay, most of the time.

    After uni and grad school most of the friends I did have moved away or I moved away and as these things go we lost touch. Where I live now, which is town I grew up in, either my cohort is missing or they’re people I don’t care to get back in touch with. I’m not very good at making friends, always have been; I lack the temperament for community things and the patience for people in general, and the depression makes everything harder on top. I have daily contact with people, on my commute and at work and with my parents (my family is just me and my parents), and at the end of the day I feel drained of People Things and on the weekend I just need to recharge to do People Things the next week.

    I do have friends, but most of them are either online (which means I get to dictate when and how much to interact, within reason and depending on how much they want to, of course), or one of us has to travel to see the other and then I’m happy to spend THE WHOLE DAY with them, but that happens maybe once or twice a year because travel and then, because I have issues relating to people, I think they’re pretty done with me for the next few months anyway (we text when we don’t see each other).

    I’m okay doing stuff by myself; I go to cafes and restaurants and museums and the zoo by myself and I don’t mind at all, actually am even grateful for being by myself most of the time. I go through periods when I crave having friends closer and would like to go have a drink (I don’t go to bars by myself, that doesn’t feel safe) and just shoot the sh*t for an evening, but that’s the trade off for having my peace the rest of the time and no obligations to someone. (I don’t have a partner, don’t want a partner, and have no desire to have children.)

    I’m just leaving this here, because right now I need to say this to someone and I have no one to say this to, because I know people I know will judge me for it.

    1. Colette*

      It sounds like you’re happy with your life as it is, so you’re doing great!

      I will say that there is a benefit in having people close by who can be physically present when you need them – when I broke my leg, life would have been very difficult without geographically close friends. But that may not be a good enough reason to change your life, and there’s no guarantee that friends will be available when you need them anyway.

      1. Friendless (but not totally)*

        Yes, and this is the part where I wish I had friends closer to me, because who do you call if you have a really bad flu and need groceries. Or, heck, if you just need to vent.

        Well, but you’re right: the same way with family, you won’t know if anyone would be there.

    2. Washi*

      One thing I will say is that if you do make a connection with someone, I’ve found it’s easier to keep it casual and low-contact than trying to make a really close friend. So if you find someone you click with, having a drink once every month or two and nothing more is quite normal for a casual adult friendship.

      Sounds like you’re happy with the way things are, but just a thought that the obligations of friendship don’t have to be overwhelming.

      1. Friendless (but not totally)*

        No, I’ve never really had super close friends (I…may have thought I did, but I was definitely mistaken) anyway. The going and finding someone I click with part (‘putting myself out there’) is hard. I’m doing reasonably well with People Things. Usually.

        I’m reasonably content with my life most of the time. :) But sometimes it would be nice to have those low key connections.


    3. Pam*

      I’m much the same, I work with university students, but like to come home to quiet. I have a handful of friends from high school, and a lot of casual acquaintances. That’s enough for me.

    4. LPUK*

      I am in a similar position in that I am single, live alone, have never wanted kids and am not interested in having a partner. I actually enjoy living alone and am pretty self – sufficient. Like you my friends are mostly some distance away, and I see / contact them fairly infrequently, but we always enjoy it when we get together. I do have my sister quite near me now, and one thing we have started doing is to join a cinema club and watch a film together each week. It’s just enough contact! For many years I travelled for work, which is why my friends are not local, but now that I am older and working from home, I have started trying to develop friends ( or at least friendly relations ) with some of my neighbours, so that I have someone to call on for help if necessary (one of the few downsides to living alone is who to contact in an emergency). We aren’t hugely close but we go to the pub for a drink every so often, and plan dinner together every couple of months. It’s nice, low intensity contact that suits me and them.

      I think there are more people like us, quietly and contentedly getting on with our lives, than we may think: it’s just not talked about. Ive tried, but people jump in to reassure me that I won’t be alone forever ( I certainly plan to be!) as if I’ve presented them with a problem to fix, instead of just having a conversation about different ways to live your life. Glad to hear from another contented Singleton!

      1. Friendless (but not totally)*

        I like that term!

        Oh yes, the “you’ll find someone” and “children can still happen” encouragements. Like, I really hope not?

        I plan to move again in the next perhaps 2 years, perhaps then I can build that kind of relationship also with my neighbours. Or join a book club. Where I am now, no; I’ve known too many people in this town for most of my life, there are some bad blood family complications from the generation before mine.

        But thanks for sharing! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who might be a little weird to others.

        1. LPUK*

          Here’s another one. I had just joined my last company and was sitting in a meeting with other newbies learning about benefits. HR lady was talking about life insurance and healthcare for dependents, so I piped up ‘ and what about those of us that are joyfully unencumbered?’. No answer.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      I’m fairly solitary myself — another only child! — but I have joined a couple of groups based on my hobbies and interests. They didn’t result in close friendships, but there’s a certain level of casual camaraderie that I find I enjoy.
      I don’t know what your interests are, but a book club sounds like a good place to start. Adult Ed classes, such as cooking or crochet or whatever, can also be a good low-risk source of connections; and you might discover that you really enjoy the subject of the class.

      1. Ariaflame*

        It doesn’t really matter what the activity is, provided you enjoy it. For me it’s board-gaming where I see some friends twice a month, and go to a large club twice a month (I’m currently the vice-chair of that group). The trick is to find something you are interested in, and find somewhere or some group who are also interested and not to push too much towards making a Friend, but to make acquaintances and see what develops.

  32. Myrin*

    Warning for discussion of medical stuff (not graphic).

    I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it on here but I’ve been feeling a burning sensation on my tongue for months now. It’s always there but gets worse whenever I eat anything at all.

    I’ve been to all kinds of doctors until my ENT said I might have a vitamin B deficiency – which is apparently something that happens a lot with people who got their gallbladder out, which I did in April – which causes tongue burning. Thinking I’d finally found a solution, I happily started taking the pills he prescribed but it… didn’t really get better. Like, it kinda did, sometimes, but also not really?

    So I finally got an appointment with a gastroenterologist on Wednesday, mostly because by now I was sure that I must have some kind of elusive allergy (to the act of eating, apprently?!). We had a pretty comprehensive talk and you could tell that she somehow doubted the existence of any allergies but she took my blood regardless (and I’ll be having a gastroscopy on Wednesday in two weeks which I honestly can barely wait for because I keep having weird, irregular intestines stuff and I think it will be nothing but I want there to be proof of nothing).

    And then she called me on Thursday afternoon, saying they don’t have all the results yet (and I’m not quite sure if that includes the allergy testing or not) but what they already do know is that my vitamin B is fine but that I have an astounding lack of folic acid. I honestly didn’t think clearly in the moment because I neither asked if she can tell where this is coming from so suddenly (although I guess it might have to do with my missing gallbladder? I’ve had liver stuff since I was a teenager, which influences the body’s folic acid levels) nor if there’s anything I can do about it permanently. I will do that when she calls next week with the remaining results, though, fear not! In the meantime, she sent me a receipt which lets me get folic acid pills on Monday and I’m really eager to find out if that horrible feeling will finally go away!

    (A little searching online tells me that these are pills specifically for cases where the folic acid deficiency can’t be repaired “through dietary means”. I don’t know how she knows that I eat and drink tons of milk and milk products and wheat and legumes, which are apparently the main sources for folic acid, but it seems like she did. Another symptom, by the by, is trouble concentrating and I will attempt a somersault in happiness if this freaking thing is actually the reason why I’ve been having the crappiest memory for like two months now. I’ve lamented to my family how my previously infallible memory suddenly seems to have gone down the drain completely with me entirely forgetting whole conversations and situations, which has never happened to me before in my life and in fact, is something I’ve always been astoundingly good at. Let’s see where this all goes.)

    1. Bluebell*

      I think that “burning mouth syndrome” is a thing. Someone I used to work with is now suffering from it, and She just chews gum all the time to deal with it. I heard from someone else that she is going to try and travel to a specialist. Sorry to hear you are suffering with it, and maybe your doctors can figure something out.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’m not a doctor, and feel free to ignore this, but when I’ve had pain in my mouth, sometimes gargling with a mixture of white vinegar and water (mostly water) or with a mixture of salt and mostly water helps. Not sure if this will help in your case at all, but I don’t think it would hurt. And as awful as vinegar tastes, even well diluted in water, having pain go away has been worth it for me. Hope you feel better soon!

        1. Auntie Social*

          I apply non-citrus yogurt (strawberry, for example) to my tongue and lips when they’re sore. Really slather it on. The relief is instant, and works better than anything my dermatologist or dentist has prescribed.

      2. Myrin*

        I’ve considered that as well, but seeing as my ailment – a burning tongue – is a symptom of something I evidently have – a folic acid deficiency – I’m for now going forward under the assumption that they’re related. Thankfully, it’ll be pretty easy to figure out once I take the new supplements!

        1. Not a doctor*

          Hoping that is the solution for you. But if that doesn’t fix it, I also had burning mouth syndrome for six months without a vitamin deficiency or other obvious cause. The doctor I saw suggested a very low-tech intervention that helped me get rid of it, diluting a drop of Tabasco sauce in a shot glass of water and swishing it in your mouth (and spitting out). You increase the number of drops of Tabasco sauce over time – you are basically desensitizing yourself.

    2. Fikly*

      Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause the weirdest, most obscure symptoms! I have Celiac, so have the tendency to develop random malabsorption issues.

      A couple of years ago, I stopped being able to taste salt. And not just salted food – I could literally put a pinch of salt in my mouth and it would taste like nothing. Bacon was the saddest experience. I went to my doctor and told them to test me for every vitamin and mineral level under the sun.

      18 tubes of blood later, it turned out I had a massive zinc deficiency. I started taking a zinc supplement every day, and lo and behold, I could taste salt again! After a few months, I tried stopping, but then lost salt again, so I just take it regularly and am resigned to it.

      I hope this fixes it for you!

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      Being picky here, but folic acid is the synthesized version of folate. Folate is B9 so you actually do have a vitamin B deficiency. Leafy greens are the best source of folate.

      The Mayo Clinic has a great page on folate.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh, I know that – the doctor meant B1, 6, and 12, which the pills I take at the moment pertain to.

    4. OyHiOh*

      Weird allergy possiblities include “oral pollen allergy” which causes mouth and/or airway symptoms in reaction to pollens on the skins of raw vegetables/fruits. Root vegetables and greens generally don’t cause symptoms but most other produce needs to be cooked to eliminate symptoms.

      I get oral reactions to citrus oils and any scents that are derived from citrus oils. The edges of my tongue swell/feel tingly/burning. Finding cleaning products that don’t make my mouth hurt is a fun time.

      I really hope that yours turns out to be a deficiency of some sort. Much easier to deal with with some simple supplementation!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have a similar (but slower) reaction to fresh black pepper. It sort of feels like I burned my mouth. Usually hits by morning if I use fresh pepper at dinner.

    5. Observer*

      Yup, This could be the issue.

      Here is what the NHS says – it’s a really nice list:

      Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia can cause a wide range of symptoms. These usually develop gradually, but can worsen if the condition goes untreated.

      Anaemia is where you have fewer red blood cells than normal or you have an abnormally low amount of a substance called haemoglobin in each red blood cell.

      General symptoms of anaemia may include:

      extreme tiredness (fatigue)
      lack of energy (lethargy)
      feeling faint
      pale skin
      noticeable heartbeats (palpitations)
      hearing sounds coming from inside the body, rather than from an outside source (tinnitus)
      loss of appetite and weight loss

      Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

      If you have anaemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may have other symptoms, such as:

      a pale yellow tinge to your skin
      a sore and red tongue (glossitis)
      mouth ulcers
      pins and needles (paraesthesia)
      changes in the way that you walk and move around
      disturbed vision
      changes in the way you think, feel and behave
      a decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement (dementia)

      Some of these symptoms can also happen in people who have a vitamin B12 deficiency but have not developed anaemia.
      Symptoms of folate deficiency

      Additional symptoms in people with anaemia caused by a folate deficiency can include:

      symptoms related to anaemia
      reduced sense of taste
      numbness and tingling in the feet and hands
      muscle weakness

  33. Holly*

    Is anyone here is seeing the touring version of Les Mis? I didn’t see it in New York because I heard it was badly miscast and that kind of ruined the show. But I don’t know if this is the same cast or if it’s improved at all since.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I have not seen the recent touring version of Les Miz.
      I looked at the cast list and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in the current touring cast (or at least no one that I am like “oh yeah I saw So-and-So and they were good.”)
      I saw Les Miz 2x on tour (before 2002), 1x in London at the Palace, as well as the NY Revival…
      I’ve enjoyed it every time, but I hear ya, how a miscasting can ruin a show…

    2. Llellayena*

      Oh yes, miscasting can be the death of a good show! As evidence the recent Les Mis movie…

      I haven’t seen the latest tour but I also hadn’t heard about the miscasting. I would love to see it again though! It’s my favorite! (…starts humming Empty Chairs…)

    3. kz*

      I actually just saw the touring version in Pittsburgh and thought it was fantastic! No idea if they’ve changed the cast since NY or what.

  34. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

    My dating life has sort of disappeared for the last 2-3 years and I’m not sure what happened! I was dealing with some family and health issues at the beginning of it, but now I feel like I forgot how to meet people.

    When I was in college and graduate school, it was really easy to meet people through other friends and classmates. However, now, I realize that none of my existing friends know anyone I could potentially date, so I just have not been meeting anyone. I’ve tried online dating, but it sucks, and the idea of looking at another stupid Bumble profile fills me with dread. Also, all the guys I’ve met through OK Cupid have been some the worst guys I’ve ever met! Strangely, Tinder has been a better experience in the past, but not what I’m looking for right now.

    Currently, I’m looking for various social events I can potentially do this month and once the new year starts. Anyone else have any suggestions?

    1. Jackalope*

      Do you have a Meetup in your area? I found that to be super helpful, although I live in a large metropolitan area so smaller places might not work. That’s what I did for avoiding online dating but still keeping myself out there.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      I will mention volunteering. One of my friends met her spouse through the conservation / tree planting/ group here. For her, it was the draw of the outdoors, and doing something physical and good for the world… he was a bonus.

      Then, even if you don’t meet someone there, you have done something you did enjoy… and are happier with possibly other new friends, just not dating. (that’s where she started with it).

  35. Teapot Translator*

    I am feeling very anxious about stuff we don’t talk about here. I can feel the paralysis/procrastination coming on. What works for you to calm down the anxiety enough to do what you have to do? I need to eat and figure out what I’m going to cook for the week and my brain is going nope, don’t wanna.

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Whats the smallest step you can take to move forward? Figure that out, do it, and then see if you want to do more.

      Alternatively, I like the timed method where I give myself 15 minutes to start on it. If I want to continue then I do or if I dont feel like it then I stop.

      1. lasslisa*

        This works for me too – and I mean *smallest step*. “Get out the book I’m supposed to write a report on.” Then once it’s in my hands, well, might as well read a sentence or two…

        Or if I don’t know where to start, the task becomes to figure out where to start – like, “check library catalog for books about the topic” or “write down a list of different topics I could write about”. Writing stuff down helps me not get caught in mental loops, too.

  36. Alice*

    Bad sign or just a mistake?

    A real estate agent was highly recomnded to me by a friend. I called, nice chat. I followed up by email with times and locations that work for me to meet. He replies having read the times but naming a location 25 minutes away from any of the ones I gave.

    Picking up on details is important for a realtor, no?

    1. Brandee*

      I’m being generous here, but perhaps the times only work at the location the agent gave? Eg s/he has a showing that would preclude meeting you at your time/location?

    2. Blue Eagle*

      When we contacted the real estate agent, she asked when and where we wanted to meet and she was there. And she returned phone call extremely promptly (because obviously she can’t take a call when with another client). If the agent can’t or won’t meet at your convenience, then can you really trust that they will put your needs to the top of the pile?

      If you want to give them one more chance, I would take Brandee’s advise and contact them again saying where you would like to meet and give them a couple of times to see if they respond favorably – – otherwise red flag.

    3. Lucette Kensack*

      Agents are a dime a dozen. You want someone who is going to prioritize your needs. You could check with your friend to hear about how responsive she was to them, otherwise I’d seek out other agents and move on.

  37. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

    If you like lighthearted, have you tried any Dianna Wynne Jones? It’s actually mostly children’s novels, but definitely good enough for adults to read. Castle in the Air is particularly excellent.

  38. Lost in the Woods*

    Any good nonfiction recommendations? Preferably something not too bleak, since we’re heading into the worst month of the year for my highly seasonal depression!

    I just finished Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River by David Owen, and it was a fascinating if deeply concerning look at the many interlocking issues surrounding water use and conservation in the western US. It was a much more accessible intro to the topic than Cadillac Desert, which I’ve tried and failed to read before.

    1. Lady Jay*

      I read Scott Jurek’s North about a year ago–great book about his FKT (fastest-known time) record on the Appalachian Trail. He ran the whole thing in 46 days (!). While the record has since been broken (!!), it’s a great read, especially if you’re interested in outdoorsy / running / memoir type works.

    2. Laburnum*

      For a very interesting read, that is beautifully written — The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. It’s short and a nice “lift” in the time of bleak weather.

      And, I’d say just about anything by Michael Perry, who writes both nonfiction and essays — his personal style of storytelling is something that resonates with a lot of readers. I suggest Truck: A Love Story — or Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting.

      1. Nerdgal*

        Salt by Mark Kurlansky is a great book. Also, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford.

    3. Boozhoo*

      Not a new release, but I just read The Elephant Whisperer (2012) by Lawrence Anthony and it is so great.

    4. Fellow Traveler*

      I just read Between the Desert and the Sea by Michael Scott Moore and really enjoyed it. It’s a memoir about the authot’s time being captured by Somali Pirates. It’s surprisingly funny and uplifting.

    5. Fikly*

      Memories of Silk and Straw: A Self-Portrait of Small Town Japan, by Junichi Saga.

      You’re going to want the kindle edition, if you can’t get it in print (which is hard to do, it’s out of print).

      This is an amazing book. It’s transcribed oral histories that were taken by the local doctor in a small town in Japan, outside of Tokyo, while visiting the elderly population in the 1970s to deliver care. It’s essentially the story of the massive change that Japan went through from 1890 through roughly 1930ish, told through the eyes of the people (of all social classes) in this small village.

    6. OyHiOh*

      I found For All the Tea in China to be a facinating, easy read tracing the . . . . let’s call it what it was, industrial espienage and theft of tea plants from China to plant in India.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m rereading Studs Terkel “The Good War”, oral history of WWII collected from dozens of interviewees.
      On my Christmas wishlist is “Mudlark: In Search of London’s Past Along the River Thames” by Lara Maiklem, whose Facebook page I have followed for longer than this blog.

    8. Aphrodite*

      Most of my books are in (temporary) storage for the moment but given what you just finished I think you might really enjoy any of Simon Winchester’s books. He’s a fantastic writer. I love all this books, but particularly enjoyed Krakatoa.

    9. Queer Earthling*

      Bill Bryson is generally my go-to for fun nonfiction. A Short History of Nearly Everything and A Walk in the Woods are probably his best known ones, but my favorite is At Home, which explored the history of the everyday and mundane objects and customs we have. It’s got a very dry humor to it–my spouse found it a little dull, but I find it hilarious and informative.

      1. Teach*

        He has a new book! Very much like “At Home” but about the human body. I just bought it for DH for Christmas, but I am tempted to stealth read it in the closet.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My taste in nonfiction runs to memoirs/bios, medical and true crime – I just finished a biography of Barbara Bush, by Susan Page, which was really interesting (and the opposite of bleak, to boot). Amaryllis Fox “Life Undercover” (recently suggested by Alison), same thing.

    11. runner*

      If you are interested in running, I’m reading 26 Marathons by Meb Keflezighi. It’s a cool story about each marathon he completed and some great life lessons.

  39. WellRed*

    I’d like to apologize for recommending Christmas with the Kranks for a holiday movie list last week. Saw it last night. Laughed a few times but so so stupid. Guess I am really not a Tim Allen fan : )

    1. KarenK*

      I recommend the book it’s based on, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. But, yeah, the movie is terrible, probably due to Tim Allen.

      1. WellRed*

        I’ve been in a total Grisham kick which is why I had the movie on my list. Totally Tim Allen’s fault.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      He is funny in the Santa Clause movies, but I dislike him as a person so I think I may ditch my DVDs.

    1. Desperately seeking cute kitty*

      Thanks for reminding me what that cat’s name is! I remember Olive, Eve and Wallace’s names but keep forgetting Sophie’s. :(

  40. FaintlyMacabre*

    I miss the Billfold! For lots of reasons, but especially the monthly check-in. I think publicly tracking my efforts to pay off debt really helped and I’d like to start doing that again here. Heck, I’ll even mail people congratulation cards if they achieve their goals! Anyone interested?

    1. PX*

      I just posted a bit about my money conundrum below, and while mine is (luckily) more on the saving focused side, I’m happy to cheer on anyone who wants to post about paying off debt and achieving their goals! I feel like financial literacy is so underrated and causes so many problems when it is lacking!

      So if you want to have a weekly money talk thread, I say go for it :D

    2. WellRed*

      I feel like it’s almost impossible to pay off my debt. Would that I could go back in time and make a few different choices.

    3. Meepmeep*

      Ooh, count me in for the money talk! We are in Dave Ramsey mode at present tackling our monstrous debt (mostly Wife’s student loans, which are in the six figures). We dug ourselves out of credit card debt hell in the past two years and are still going strong. I’d love some sort of check in.

    4. AnonLurker Appa*

      I too miss The Billfold! I didn’t post on the monthly check-ins but I would support and possibly join in here. Currently working on saving up, have all the debt paid off.

  41. Bewildered lately*

    Has anyone experienced thumping/irregular heartbeats? And chest pain? I’ve been experiencing these issues for a year now, been seen by two cardiologists and had multiple scans. They’ve found nothing. The second cardiologist diagnosed me with ectopic heartbeats, which results in me being very aware of them but there is nothing wrong with my heart (yay). Only I can’t sleep. And I feel anxious; I think because if your body ‘feels’ the symptoms of anxiety (or illness), then your mind feels anxious! If you see what I mean. Beta blockers are a possibility, but I’m reluctant to go on medication. They’re also setting me up with a sports musculoskeletal specialist (I am not sporty) to see if the pain part is muscular (not the heart muscle). I hesitate to post on here, as I don’t want to be frightened with examples of how doctors are wrong or don’t take women seriously, because I think they are taking me seriously. But if anyone has practical advice on what worked for them with these sorts of symptoms, I’d appreciate it! FWIW, I’m 50 and soon to qualify as menopausal. Thank you!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Do you take calcium? Calcium carbonate supplements gave me terrible heart palpitations. I also have what’s called inappropriate sinus tachycardia, which sounds way worse than it is, and in my case, it’s caused by… reflux. I hate walking down the street and getting that irregular heartbeat feeling, though I am comforted that it’s basically nothing in my case.

      If either of those things sound familiar, quitting extra calcium and making some diet changes may help.

      1. valentine*

        Would it help to do a sleep study where they also monitor you for a few hours the next day? And see if you can do it at home. (Unless you’re a morning person. Being startled awake and kicked out at 6:00 am is heinous.)

    2. Bob*

      I’ve also had weird heart issues this year. Mine havent quite been pinned down yet, but for myself – I do think I can see a correlation between when I’m stressed (and sometimes trying to deny that I’m stressed) and when I get them. So maybe try and see if there are any patterns of when they occur and work on some calming techniques (good breathing, meditation type things). I guess the latter would be the non-medication alternative to beta blockers as well? :D

    3. fposte*

      Well, the good news is nothing seems likely to be trying to immediately kill you. One possibility that I imagine was already raised is that the ectopic heartbeats are something you’ve lived comfortably with for years that have no connection to the chest pain; IOW, the heart was a red herring, if you will.

      I like the idea of a good sports med PT; there are a lot of things that can happen in the chest and rib areas to make you pretty darn uncomfortable, and bodies in general fare better when they’re doing something (it’s that quiet inaction of night that allows the mind to race, isn’t it?). A good PT sees a lot of different pain patterns and may have some ideas about yours that unlock things. Hopefully they’ll also talk to you about your work, since any chronic pain can be related to how we use our bodies 40 hours a week. If you don’t regularly do anything physical otherwise, I’d try to throw that in the mix. I don’t know your tastes, but you don’t have to, like, sign up for zumba or take a spin class; just going for a walk once or twice a day can be really helpful to get things moving better, and that also can help a lot with the attendant anxiety.

      Sorry you’re going through this, but I’m glad your heart’s okay. <3.

    4. Fikly*

      I was going to say no practical advise, but actually, a good pulse ox meter (which will also do heart rate!) is something I find very reassuring, because it’s a hard measure of what my heart rate actually is, regardless of what I feel it is. But then, unlike watches, you take it off and put it away so you don’t obsess over it.

      Also, sympathy! I have very irregular palpitations, and have never managed to successfully get them recorded. I have heard from cardiologists that I think I trust that basically, it’s probably not dangerous, but unless we get them recorded, they can’t really tell me for sure, which I mean, that seems probably true. It hasn’t killed me yet.

    5. Fikly*

      I was going to say no practical advise, but actually, a good pulse ox meter (which will also do heart rate!) is something I find very reassuring, because it’s a hard measure of what my heart rate actually is, regardless of what I feel it is. But then, unlike watches, you take it off and put it away so you don’t obsess over it.

      Also, sympathy! I have very irregular palpitations, and have never managed to successfully get them recorded. I have heard from cardiologists that I think I trust that basically, it’s probably not dangerous, but unless we get them recorded, they can’t really tell me for sure, which I mean, that seems probably true. It hasn’t killed me yet.

    6. tangerineRose*

      Other than the heart issues, have you been under more stress than usual lately or changed your diet lately? I used to have weird heart beats when I was in college and worked in fast food; I don’t know if it was stress or that I was eating a lot of fast food (it was half price!), but the combo seemed to be the problem, and it went away (mostly) on its own after that.

    7. The New Wanderer*

      I hadn’t heard the phrase ectopic heartbeats but I think I have the same thing. They started to be noticeable about 15 years ago when I was finishing my PhD (so big stress and anxiety). No chest pain though, just weird arrhythmias once in a while ever since. Usually when I’m lying down to go to sleep is when I notice them.

      I’ve also had several EKGs and no findings, but almost everything on the trigger list applies and yet nothing is a definite cause. I’ve been in really good cardiovascular shape and relatively poor shape, and neither seems to have any effect on the frequency. Mostly I just focus on meditating when it happens, to reduce the stress and see if my heart rate goes back to normal.

      1. Creapy Arms*

        They put me on a beta blocker for this and it really helped. I’m on metoprolol. I was on atenolol, went off of it because, it caused hair loss.

    8. OyHiOh*

      I have a condition called POTS that can cause heart symptoms. My case is pretty mild and the worst cardiac symptoms I get is the *feeling* that my heart is racing (while at the same time verifying that my heart, is in fact beating at a perfectly normal pace) – it feels like having an anxiety attack although it’s not.

      A family member has POTS much worse than I do and sees a cardiologist as well as a neurologist. Family member faints/hits their head pretty regularly, gets tachycardia, has memory and thinking issues – it’s severe enough that even with treatment, they use a wheelchair at least a few days a month and have a (tall!) service dog whose job is to be a portable wall to lean against or to help them stand up after a fall, carry meds, and is able to identify certain cues that family member is having an episode and respond before they fall or otherwise injur themselves.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I get weird heart rhythms mostly in times of grief. Vitamin B takes care of it for me.

      Have you had your thyroid checked?

      One thing that has helped me a lot with anxiousness is this breathing exercise. Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose, nice deep long inhale. Verrry slowly release the breath through pursed lips.

      It also helps if my heart finds a new and uncomfortable pattern. I read some where that it slows the heart down x beats per minute. I wanna say 9 beats but I can’t remember.

      I like this because I can use it any time anywhere.
      I do recommend practicing in a calm moment. But, cool idea here, do it just before going to sleep. I find I sleep better. As you practice you can figure out how to discreetly hold your mouth so it does not look like you are puckering up to kiss someone. Handy for public settings.

    10. I have PVC*

      I’m not familiar with the term ectopic heartbeats, but I have Premature Ventricular contractions, which I can also feel but are benign. I had to wear a heart monitor for two weeks for them to be picked up. They didn’t show up on ultrasound or stress test. My Dr said some people take beta blockers but recommended I cut out caffeine first. So I’ve cut it out completely – no coffee, no tea, no chocolate (except white chocolate), not even decaf coffee or tea because those still have some caffeine. I’ve noticed a difference. I miss chocolate the most, but I also like not having that feeling of my heart doing cartwheels, so I can deal with it. If I do feel an episode come on, I practice slow deep breaths. I find that helps me to combat the effect of physical symptoms “fooling” my mind into believing it should be anxious.

      If you currently consume caffeine, it might be worth it to try a few weeks without. That could help with the anxious feelings too.

      I also have had musculoskeletal chest wall pain that was unrelated to the PVC. I thought it was an anxiety attack or my heart, and therefore my heart rate went up. But a few Aleve helped out go away as inflammation was the underlying issue.

      Hoping you can find some relief!

    11. K*

      The chest pain could be costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the connective tissue between the ribs. It’s one of the most common causes of people thinking that they’re having a heart attack. The good news is, it’s perfectly harmless and will usually go away on its own. The bad news is there isn’t really anything you can do about it. It might be worth looking up and seeing if the pain described matches up with what you feel!

      1. Natalie*

        You can treat it with NSAIDs, assuming you’re otherwise able to take them for a while (a few weeks IIRC). (Obviously talk to a doctor first.)

    12. Bewildered lately*

      Thanks for all the kind words and helpful responses! I will ask about costochondritis when I get to the specialist, and I’m working on meditative breathing. One thing I stumbled across this weekend is that dehydration might contribute to the irregular heartbeats. I’ve upped my fluid intake and have definitely noticed an improvement. Hope that helps someone else!

    13. Lilysparrow*

      I had palpitations and irregular heartbeats when my thyroid gland was dying. I have autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s), so I’m hypothyroid now, but before I was diagnosed I would go through spurts of hyPERthyroid – weight loss, irregular heartbeat, inexplicable anxiety and what felt like panic attacks but with no history and not connected to any type of trigger event.

      I know now that those periods (which alternated with periods of lethargy, weight gain, low body temperature, etc) were the last thro